Name That Rabbit! :: eighth edition

Is this the eighth time I’ve had you guys name a rabbit? Or the nineth? I would go back and check in the archives, but that might take the rest of my life on this dial-up internet. But hey, free is free, right?

Let’s do this. This is one of my Chocolate Agouti colored French Angora bucks (male). His first birthday is on New Years Day. He is a lovely, lovely rabbit. Nice weight, beautiful coat, soft and fluffy wool, and a very sweet temperament. He is a keeper/breeding buck now because 1) he has had a chunk missing out of his ear since he was a kit which renders him “un-showable and 2) because he is from Dandelion’s line of great wool producers.

I have been attempting to breed him to Indigo, my Self Lilac doe, so he kind of needs a name before I have to print out pedigrees for his offspring. I am absolutely out of ideas this round and need your help for ideas.

Rules:
* Look through the list of names that other readers have suggested first.
* Add a name to the poll if you want… You know how I like weird and sci-fi names so go hog wild.
* Then, vote! Vote for yourself, have your spouse vote, your kids, your neighbor, your dentist, everyone should vote! People will think you’re crazy, but it’s okay. The world has enough normalites.
* I’ll give it a week or two before making it all official.
* If you do add a new name, I need to go in and add it to the visible list manually. So if you don’t see it show up, rest assured that your name is in there and I will add it soon. Your vote has been counted.

Vote and Contribute Names Here!

Sharpies Make Things Pretty

A couple weeks ago I took some Sharpie markers to my fiddle. Don’t freak out just yet! I wanted to make my $40 fiddle look a little more festive and I just happened to have a gold and silver Sharpie on hand. I found some photos of Norwegian fiddles online and let them inspire me. A little freehand doodling later, and voilà! a pretty fiddle. I’m sure it will make me play better. 😉

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/245/33391790/files/2014/12/img_5472.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/245/33391790/files/2014/12/img_5473.jpg

Frühling

Just two more months before I can justify filling up my windows with seed starts. Some things may be started earlier, but I have to check on that. I might even have to adjust my last frost date now that we live in a slightly lower elevation… then again, less of a tree windbreak might put us at just about the same frost date anyhow.

Frühling (spring) brings seedlings and seedlings bring excitement for growth. I am most excited for the pumpkin patch I am going to put in where the turkeys are now (they will be in my belly and their plot will be rich with manure) and possibly some pickling cucumbers and apple trees. I’m pretty sure I could live off of those three things: pumpkins, pickles, and apples.

Today I took an inventory of what seeds I already have. I have come to the conclusion that I need very few seeds to have a well balanced garden in the spring. There is good variety with each type of seed in my pile. I have the most of peas, beans, pumpkins, and surprisingly– I have a ton of onions. Yum! I definitely need some more carrots though. To begin amending the soil, I will have to add a sprinkling of dandelions, comfrey, chicory, borage (bees go bananas for it), and sage. I also have rosemary, marigolds, and sunflowers on my wish list just because they are great for the bees and kitchen.

In the Frühlingskabine Seed Inventory:
Peas: Little Marvel, Sugar Daddy (1/4 lb.)
Beans: Roma II bush, Contender bush, Chinese Red Noodle (1/2 lb.)
Onions: Flat of Italy, Green Bunching, Australian Brown, Donata di Parma (3,100)
Melons: American Green, Golden Honeymoon (25)
Squash: Butternut Waltham, Frühlingskabine Pie Pumpkin, Black Beauty Zucchini (165)
Lettuce: Red Romaine, Black Seeded Simpson (1/2 oz.)
Greens: Rainbow Swiss Chard, Flamingo Swiss Chard, Dinosaur Kale, Bloomsdale Spinach (425)
Leek: Giant Musselburgh (100)
Rhubarb: Glaskins Perpetual (2)
Turnip: Purple Top White Globe (500)
Radish: French Breakfast (800)
Beets: Detroit Dark Red, Chioggia striped (30)
Eggplant: Beatrice, Bianca Rosa (60)
Herbs: Cilantro, Yarrow, Italian Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, Fennel, Stevia, Oregano (1,600)
Tomatoes: Beefsteak, Black Cherry (40)
Cucumbers: Parisian, Marketmore, Boston Picking, Homemade Pickles (125)
Artichoke: Purple of Romagna (25)
Brussels Sprouts: Long Island (350)
Broccoli: Di Cicco (1,000)
Celery: Dave’s Frühlingskabine (2,000+)
Carrots: Scarlet Nantes (200)
Cabbage: Mammoth Red (1,050)
Peppers: Cal Wonder, Bell Pepper (75)
Plum: From the Organic Market- red flesh (25)

If anyone wants to trade some of my extra seeds (Frühlingskabine Pie Pumpkin, Dave’s Frühlingskabine Celery, Di Cicco Broccoli, Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts) for anything on my wishlist (comfrey, chicory, borage, sage, rhubarb, interesting things), send me an email!
fmicrofarm@gmail.com

Begin Again

I am working on a mental switch from seeing the farm as needing to “start over” to thinking of it as “beginning again”. This is really difficult for me because for our first three years, everything seemed to flourish. Rabbits did fairly well –that is, I had lots of litters– and the chickens produced lots of eggs. We had access to a fully fenced garden to do with whatever we pleased. Everything was unicorns and rainbows.

In the last year since we moved, I have tried to fit these same expectations into a completely untamed and empty system. A lack of a system, really. It hasn’t worked for obvious reasons: there is no fencing to just go out and plant things; there is different weather, almost no shade, and very few sheltered areas to work with; we have more space; and most importantly, there are more wild predators. Our previous location afforded us a sense of protection that we do not have here. Here, everything is open and it is up to us to figure out how to create shelter, protection, and working systems.

20140329-150514.jpg

So my New Year Resolution is multi-faceted yet all going towards the same goal:
Forgiveness
I must forgive myself for losing animals to heat and under-fortified structures. I need to forgive myself in order to move forward with my best work. I have learned some hard lessons this year and now I need to look to the future.

Renewal
There are many stuck gears within the daily operation of the farm. Systems that worked before are no longer relevant here. The rabbits need a habitat more adapted to the new land, the garden needs a push shove to get going, and the chickens need to be completely redone. The chickens need a new, bigger coop. The farm needs chicken breeds are excellent layers, can withstand our weather extremes, and can forage well. I am going to try Dominiques (the original Gold Rush chicken… we live in an 1850’s Gold Rush town) and Americaunas (for their adaptability and long laying cycles). Trevor also hopes to be able to catch a few honeybee swarms this spring (free bees rather than $100+ per starter nuc).

Value Diversity
I cannot afford to put all my eggs in one basket anymore, both literally and figuratively. I am going to do my best to have at least two versions of everything. That way if one method fails, I have a back up. Chickens, turkeys, and goats will all include multiple breeds to secure better chances of survival. The rabbits are already from 3 different breeding lines, so I really just need to build them back up.

Recycle
In order to save a butt-load of money, we need to find and use materials that other people think are useless. That being said, I don’t want my house to look like a junk yard. It is kind of hard to find that happy middle ground. So far I have a bunch of 1920’s windows and glass doors that need to be turned into a greenhouse and I have all of the “outputs” from the animals that can be used in the garden and compost. Now I need to find chicken wire, “ruined” or wet straw, used/recycled lumber, tall bamboo or PVC for garden stakes, a large pool for aquaponics, and some dead Christmas trees for the garden beds.

We Want Your Dead Trees

In a few days I will be putting a sign out at the street that reads: We want your “used” Christmas trees!

Trevor was heavily against this idea at first, sighting his own theory that millions of people out here in Mountain Ranch (which, by the way, is in the middle of nowhere) will dump their tinsel-filled, crappy trees at our doorstep. I assured him that free dead trees would really help us build more hügelkultur beds, again… for free. Which, as a poor ass farm, is very important.

My ingenious plan is to put a sign out at the street (and a flyer on the bulletin board at the market, secretly) with an arrow pointing the way to a local spot to dump used up Christmas trees. The time is just right with this being the last week of purpose for holiday evergreenery and people are often loathing the very idea of driving to the dump or having that old tree turning brown out back. I am merely offering a handy, local dirt spot for such trees to retire. I’ll just take these burdensome holiday reminders and put them to good use. *insert maniacal laughter*

Once I have some trees, I will cover them up with dirt and used goat straw (read: poopy straw) and hügels will be born! Trevor brought up the good question of where the dirt to cover these trees would come from. My answer, “the ground.” We already dug an indent of a hole to cover our first hügelkultur. We can dig that same hole deeper and wider to make a mini pond eventually. It is already located in a nice shady spot and on a natural swale that holds water. Bingo! I am keeping optimistic of this idea by using plenty of exclamation points!

Trevor thinks we may get 4 or 5 tree carcasses. I hope for dozens. I need to get this farm in some sort of working order. Get the gears turning. Well, first I have to put the gears in place. Then turn them, then I will have some semblance of a garden to work with. Even if we can’t get the new hügels fenced in, if they are built, they can start storing water or even growing smelly herbs the deer maybe won’t touch. Much.

Onward!

The Stylish Goat

Everyone has their winter coats… except for Freyja. Heidrun is practically shaggy, Bridgit and Luna have a thick coat coat all over their bodies, but Freyja’s wintery fluff hasn’t quite come in yet. She is also a little skinnier than I’d like. To help her stay warm in the meantime, I pulled out a few of these “upcycled” sweatshirts that my Grandma gave me. I thought it would be more festive for her to wear an “ugly Christmas sweater”, but we work with what we have.

The mustard-colored sweatshirt was out –just not Freyja’s color, hunter green clashed with her eyes, and the plum-colored sweatshirt could have worked, but Freyja wanted something a little more neutral. Grey it is! Now she can accessorize with less effort. That’s always important to us ladies.

DSC_1361.JPG

DSC_1360.JPG

After watching her outside for a bit, I turned to Trevor, “She looks like she is ashamed of her new sweater.”
Trevor replied, “Can goats feel ashamed?”
“I don’t know. Look at her.”
Long pause…
“Okay, you’re right, she’s ashamed.”
“But warm!” I added.
“Yeah… She looks ridiculous and warm.”