Robins and Rabbits

The robins are all over the yard lately and I think I know why. Animals large and small are having babies, kits, and chicks, and the robins are no exception. I spied this nest yesterday right outside our living room window…

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In related news, Dandelion kindled her litter of nine healthy kits last night. When I checked on them this evening, it looked as if half of the kits had been fed a little so hopefully Dandelion doesn’t run into the same problems with milk production that she had last time. I fed her a cup of rolled oats to help promote lactation. Fingers crossed folks!

This is the largest litter Dandelion has ever had so I have high hopes for these babies. Once this litter is weaned in about 6-7 weeks, Dandelion will be making her way to a “wool spinner” home in the Bay Area. It will be sad to see her go, but we must make room in our herd for the new breeding lines planned for this autumn. So this very well may be the last litter of kits she has… I think she will enjoy her retirement though. Blackberry will carry on for her here at the Frühlingskabine, but until then, let’s enjoy the last babies until autumn rolls around!

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Shiitake Mushroom Logs

We are finally, finally getting our “Herb and ‘Shroom Garden” going. And when I say finally, I mean FINALLY. I have been working so hard to get the main garden planted (and reading fiction novels which is quite un-characteristic for this non-fiction bookworm) that I have been struggling to get the Herb and ‘Shroom Garden going. But it is my goal over this next week to be all set in finishing up the rest of my oak logs for shiitake mushrooms and to plant an oasis worth of basil, parsley, rosemary, and other herbs to fill up our teeny, tiny side yard.

And as part of that goal, I have finished half of the one hundred (yeah… that’s not a typo) inoculated plugs I ordered. Phew! No one told me that drilling one hundred holes into oak logs was going to be hard using just a home-use electric drill. Well, maybe someone did, but I wasn’t listening.

Making your own mushroom logs is this easy:

Well, one, you need some 4-6″ diameter hardwood logs. The only types of wood that don’t work well are: soft woods, evergreens, white oak, pine, and cedar.

Two, you will need some sort of power/electric drill with a 5/16″ drill bit. The size of the drill bit needed will also depend on what size inoculated dowels you order. I don’t know how well I can recommend them since I have never done this before, but I ordered my shiitake inoculated dowels from Everything Mushrooms this time. We’ll see how it goes.

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First, drill holes about 2″ inches deep in a diamond pattern along your log. You will want your holes to be 3-5″ inches apart and in 4-5 rows depending on the size of your log.

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Next, you will hammer in one dowel per hole. This is easy right?! Make sure the dowel sinks into the hole a bit and is not sticking out. If you need to, use a punch to hammer the dowel into the log.

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The last step is to wax the top of the dowel filled holes in the log so that they are sealed. You can also wax the ends of the log, but multiple sources have noted that that is not necessary. It is recommended that you use “cheese wax” or beeswax. Since we have beeswax around here, I didn’t see a need to spend money on the cheese wax, although it is only about $8.00 a pound.
I’m not sure how well you can see the beeswax seal coating on top of the plug, but it’s there.

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Now we just have to stack the logs so that they are not touching the soil and tap our feet as we wait six months to a year for our mushrooms. It’s going to be awhile. After you inoculate, you should water the logs 2-3 times a week to maintain the moisture level in the wood. After a log is taken over by the mycelium (mushroomyness), they will start to fruit (produce mushrooms).You can also force fruit the logs by completely soaking them in water for 12 to 24 hours every 5 weeks.

Toblerone Came Home

My little family of three packed up some snacks and piled into the car this morning to pick up our newest French angora herd sire, Toblerone. We drove a fairly short distance of 1.5 hours to the Stockton Fairgrounds where we met up with a fellow rabbit breeder at a rabbit show. Lucky for me, she was selling off her French angora stock to focus on another breed and she planned on attending a show a little more than a hour away. Score!

Trevor had never been to a rabbit show before. After asking a woman who grooming her angoras if she knew of the young woman we were looking for, he realized that friendliness was not too common among the “show” group. Coincidently, that is the very same experience I had when browsing a rabbit show for the first time. What is it with “show” people? Is showing rabbits for sport really that intense? I mean… come on folks. Like Wil Wheaton says, “Don’t be a dick.”

In any case, I purchased my little cutie and we brought him straight home. I evicted the two meat rabbits that were occupying the hutch and now little Toblerone is hangin’ in the bachelor/quarantine hutch.

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Next month I am doing a little spring cleaning in the Rabbitry. I have decided that my breeders for fall will be: Bunaby Jones (buck), Toblerone (buck), Blackberry (doe), and Philly (doe). Dandelion will be going to a pet home to live out her days as a wooler and Seven of Nine will be become a new Utah breeder’s herd sire. Seven was always meant to be sold, but no one ever picked him up so he just hung around and became a breeder. And Dandelion is better suited to a wool producing life and not so much as a “breeder” –although she has turned out to be a loving mother to her young. Both of my bunnies will be sorely missed, but we need some new blood around here. Bunaby Jones will carry on both Dandelion and Seven’s lines and Toblerone will introduce new Washington/Oregon lines to the herd.

I will need to produce two more does to bring my total breeders to four does and two bucks. This will be accomplished by keeping back a doe from Blackberry (x Toblerone) and a doe from Philly (x Bunaby Jones). But none of those pairings will be ready until this autumn so everyone can focus on wool for now and then be sheared down for our hot August nights. Pun intended.