Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Well, Rabbit Droppings!

]]As you frequent readers of this blog may have noticed, I forgot to post last Sunday. Well, rabbit droppings! (Quite literally) We've been working in the rabbitry since its delivery. The wiring was semi straightened out, air conditioner installed, the walls and ceiling went up, the floors went down, the cages were built and hung, the automatic watering system went around to all the cages, and the dropping system went in for all the cages. Whew! Talk about a job and a half.

Meanwhile, we took delivery of the five English Angora rabbits. A bit sooner than we were ready for them. We are running a poll on YouTube to name the three babies. Somewhere after the walls and ceiling were up, and before the floors went in, we got the new rabbits. Definitely before the waste disposal system went in. We laid a tarp under the cages for about a week until we managed to build the droppings system went in. This is where Mel having an able body roommate would have really been a plus. We also realized that we has miscalculated. We now have four bucks and only two does. The proper breeding ratio is one buck for every two does. We currently are not only cockeyed, but backwards. We'll need six more does to get the right ratio.

Mel has her heart set on a fawn colored rabbit so I've been searching for one nearby at a reasonable price. Even though I've had a hard time saying "no" to Mel when it comes to building this homestead, I keep an eye on the bottom line too. For us or this homestead, it has to balance out between needs and wants. I'm not a bottomless pit where money is concerned. I'm still in multiple use mode like I was with my old homestead. The rabbits we get have to pay their own way including purchase price as fast as possible. It's the way to reach self sufficiency. Setting all this up is expensive initially. After all, I just spent a couple hundred on the last five rabbits. It will be at least three months recouping their purchase price alone. Now I'm looking at purchasing more and they will be babies too, think four to six months before recoup of initial investment. I'm not really worried about the time frame because I have other adult rabbits to help offset some of the expense.

Well, I've been searching Hoobly, Craig's List, FaceBook, Raverly, and assorted other sites for Mel's heart desire, except now it has to be a doe, for over a month. This alone makes the pickings even slimmer. Being realistic, I set the travel distance to 200 miles. I could drive there and back again within a day. But still, I couldn't find a fawn colored doe for under $100. Now I'm not opposed to paying that much for a grand champion doe, but not for a baby English Angora with no strong blood line of such, and without a pedigree. My top price is $50, and then it bunny has to be something really special in other ways like both parents having at least a 4" staple (hair) length or longer.

Wednesday, I saw where two litters of rabbits was reduced in price from a $100 to $75 each. According to the pictures, there were three cream/fawn/tan colored kits (so hard to tell from thumbnails)  for sale. I decided to call. The people live about thirty minutes up the road from us. If the price and sex are right, I may be buying three or four of them for our rabbitry. Yes, it means building another triple hole rabbit cage or two. Yes, it's more rabbits than I allotted purchasing a year. But it will be that many less that we'll have to purchase in years to come. We can house fifteen rabbits with two grow out pens in our rabbitry. It will also mean reaching our overall goal of getting Mel away from her job quicker, which is a major plus. Anyhow, we'll drive over this weekend to take a look at them. If they kits show promise, we'll wheel and deal to bring them home.

I'll keep you posted.
Y'all have a blessed week.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Busy, Busy, Busy- Beyond the Garden

Somehow, I thought with the garden dying back that I would be less busy. But then again, I should have known better. There is always a next on the to-do list in homesteading. The rabbitry was delivered.

Kim, the lady we were purchasing the new angoras from, called and told me about the impending death of a loved one. It would delay us getting the rabbits. I was heart broken and happy at the same time. Because of the delay in bringing them home, she offered us our money back. I refused. She didn't want us to think that she took the money and ran. That was the farthest thing from mt mind. I was more concerned for her going out of state to be with her loved one with her little ones. Death of a loved one is never easy even when it's expected.

But honestly, I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn't built the new cages for the rabbits, nor painted the panels to cover the insulation, nor received the new air conditioning unit for the rabbitry yet. Needless to say, I've been busy doing all of that in the lag time for rabbit delivery. Mel has been under the weather this week and has been unable to help me with the cages and hanging the panels. So once again, God knows best. Building rabbit cages is semi complicated even with two hands. While I built my individual cages before, this time was more difficult being one handed because it's four cages built in one unit. Unlike last time, I had severe issues with the "J" clips and their pliers. Plus I was working with four 120" sections of cage wire whereas before, I was working with 36" lengths.

Nothing was going my way with the cages this time. The wire kept moving off the marks it needed to be to crimp the clips. The movement needed to close the "J" clips into a barrel around the wires refused. The "J" clips kept slipping out of position in the pliers. When I got that straightened out, the cage wire shifted. Unlike before when I was sitting on a carpeted floor, I was outside trying to work on a table which compounded the issue. I got four clips sort of right before I decided to let Mel do it. I was frustrated beyond tears.

The stenciled panels, on the other hand, was going fabulous. I could do six panels a day and had them all knocked out in a couple of days. They may not be as precise as when I could work with my right hand, but they were passable. Stenciling three big bunnies on each panel, and using carrots and lettuce as fillers looks cute. I wasn't even going to try working the caulking gun to set the panels in place. The clear, adhesive caulk is expensive. The air conditioner was delivered, but we started have issues with the electrical system in the rabbitry. This trailer is set up with two electrical panels. The one original to the trailer and another panel box outside. Knowing which circuit goes where is a nightmare to find. We are having similar issues with the new air conditioner inside the trailer. I'm going to have to call an electrician. While Mel and I are pretty well versed with wiring and minor issues, this is beyond us. Even I draw the line at playing with 240 volts. I'm wishing I was closer to home where two brothers and my father are certified electricians.

So you can see why I'm grateful for the delay in getting the new rabbits. Even with the weather getting cooler, it's still too warm for angoras here. We ended up clipping the wool off our surviving angora, Dustin, because he was so miserable in the 80 plus temperatures. It's a shame too because his wool was approaching the 3" mark heading towards his usual 5" before he blew his coat. Oh well, this will be the last time we'll have to sacrifice his wool over his comfort. Now, if we can just get the power situation worked out.

Next week, I'm buying the wire fencing for the chicken run. Yippee! Although I've started the seeds for our fall garden, I've delayed transplanting them into the garden because of the chickens. After what they did to my spring and summer gardens, I understandably don't want it to happen again. My tomato plants have been doing great! I've managed to put some of them by for later use. I love the heirloom Cherokee, Brandywine, and Amish Paste tomatoes the best. They have a proven track record with me as great tasting and heavy producers. I've been saving their seeds forever it seems like. I'm thankful that they do well here. I've actually completed three videos on what I do with the harvest. Granted, I'm only doing small scale canning because I only planted one of each this year.

Next year will be different. That's when I go into full homestead production mode. Over the winter months, we will be building at least ten 3x6 raised beds and four elevated 3x6 beds. I plan for one full beds of tomatoes, green beans and English peas, and one bed of corn.We will also be repairing the greenhouse. To heat them we are planning to use our meat rabbits and straw bales. If I can convince Mel, we might built another one, but that might just have to wait until next winter. But either way, I'm going to start setting seeds earlier for next year because I won't be moving here but be here. Yes, it will be more work for me, but the rewards are boundless without the threat of chicken destroying everything.

Be blessed until next week.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rabbitry Revamp Part 1

This week's blog I'm copying from my stroke blog, but it goes along with what's going on with the rabbitry. It shows how I make the decisions I make and my accomplishments in spite of my stroke. It takes me six hours to write one blog post and I write two of them a week. It's a far cry from what I used to write. I could write a 50,000-word novel in a couple of weeks. Not anymore, but even with scrambled eggs for brains, I still manage. My stroke/author blog is republished (with permission) by stroke recovery groups and organizations world wide for the past four years. It averages out to 50K hits a month. Enjoy!
Copied from: "Sunday Stroke Survival: Relearning Something New" published 8/21/2016 by J.L. Murphey

As time goes on living post stroke, as survivors, we are constantly relearning something to stretch the envelop of our boundaries. Life is not lived in a stagnant vacuum. Unless you want it to be.

Initially, you relearn the basic stuff (walking, talking, bathroom) because it's well basic stuff that allows you to be an adult again and have some moderate control in your life. Having control is powerful. But relearning is tough and that's an understatement. It will make you angry, frustrated, and feel like quitting. But the alternative is worse for your sense of self worth and self image.

I guess that's my real blessings in my post stroke recovery process, my stubbornness and pushing the envelop have always been my blessing/curse. I believe in living an EXTRAordinary life in spite of what life dishes out. I pray for the same for you. I am also well versed in thinking outside the box as any good writer is. All my life experiences, although very challenging, has stood me well.

This week's challenges had to do with the new angora rabbitry building. While I could just leave it with plain, paper backed insulation, I wanted walls. Not only walls, but waterproof walls that I could spray cleaned when the bucks decided to mark their territory. Even with apple cider vinegar in their water, rabbit urine stinks...think aged, but diluted cat urine.

Mel and I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore last weekend and happened upon plastic, florescent light covers.The ReStore is always our first stop in searching for anything. The proceeds go to a good cause and what I really love is that it's cheaper. Both Mel and I saw these two CASES of light covers (50 2x4 panels) and you could see the light bulb blinking over our heads...waterproof walls!

We also got a kitchen sink and counter tops for the butchering station and a work surface inside the rabbitry. We also got a few odds and ends for the homestead. I walked away with everything for under $75. Keep in mind that these light panel covers sell in the regular large box stores for $175 for 20, I got 50 of them for $45. I think we did pretty well in the "get it cheaper" department. Heck, one of boxes was still in a sealed. The other one was opened so you could see what was inside.

The light panels are fine they way they are. But it wouldn't be me if I left them plain. I noticed while on side was textured the other side and was smooth. Yes, very easy clean up with the smooth surface out. But, I couldn't leave well enough alone, could I? Being this EXTRAordinary person and all. Remember, I once laid an intricate a mosaic patterned floor in my storeroom in my other house. We needed color in our rabbitry especially since we would be spending greater than a few hours grooming our angora rabbits in there. People often discount the value of color in the work space. Be assured, I never do.

So how do I break up the frosted, whitish clear light panels to add color? I knew this would be a challenge being left with only my left damaged hand to work with. What could I do that didn't involve fine motor skills. In the old days, I would have painted murals on the walls and ceilings tiles. I just don't have that kind of dexterity in my left hand. It still had to be waterproof too. I could just glue the panels up and then roller paint the whole thing, but then choosing one or two paint colors that we both liked was problematic.  Besides, it's boring!

Then I remembered stencils. You didn't have to be exact with that. I could just pounce color on. If I used acrylic paints, it would be waterproof. But what design? There's as many stencil designs as one could imagine. I fell into creative mode and it really felt great!

As usual, I brain stormed the issue. Our homestead is cockeyed. That's why we call it the Cockeyed Homestead. Both of us are constantly thinking outside the box.
We are...
1.  Quirky to the point of whimsical.
2. It is a rabbitry not our living area.
3. Simple is better if I'm doing it, and neither of us is into elaborate, extremely elegant.
4. Colorful, but not distractingly so.
5. It needs to show up well on videos.

What do you think?
Well, I Googled images for inspiration. I ran across an appliqued quilt pattern that fit the bill. It will be perfect for the rabbitry. It's an easy design and I can make the bunnies different colors while the hearts stay red and the inside of the ears can be a lighter shade of the bunny. The inside of the ear is the tear drop shape you see in the picture. I printed out the picture making it standard paper size and transferred it onto cardboard. Yes, I know they make plain stencil sheets, but I have an abundance of cardboard since the move up here and it's free. Hello! Nothing is cheaper than free. I had Mel cut them out because I still don't do well with curvy cuts with scissors or in this case an Xacto knife.

From a coloring book
To fill in some of the blank spaces I use 3" carrots and lettuce. It's just another pop of color. I positioned the rabbits (3 to a panel) sort of straight. I'm cockeyed in more ways than one. I turned the carrots this way and that in the blank spaces. Not so many that the panel appeared too busy. She asked why I was stenciling the panels behind the cages too because nobody will see it. "Doh! So the rabbits have something to look at. LOL!"

I'm just having fun relearning how to paint again. Although I never used stencils much (I preferred free handing it) before my strokes, I'm enjoying the creative aspects of this now. Just like using a loom to knit. Living post stroke is all about adapting to the changes of circumstances and doing. By choosing acrylic paints, soap and water removes all my mistakes before the paints dry. All I needed was a basic primary (8 colors) set of paints. Although I did buy a larger white and black paint to blend with. I outlined the designs with black Sharpie to make them pop. Oh all right, I had Mel do it because she has a steadier hand. But to see the finished product, you'll just have to watch the video which should be posted next week over on the Cockeyed Homestead YouTube channel.


Nothing is impossible.

Well that's it for this week. I hope you don't hold it against me that I copied my other blog here. I honestly started an original blog for this week but realized most of what I was going to say was a rehash of my stroke/author blog. I may do it again periodically so be warned.

As always like, subscribe, share, and comment.

Be blessed.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Change of Plans Again- Rabbitry/Chickens

Well, you know Murphy's Law? Well, I'm a Murphey by marriage. The added "e" in the last name just makes the law extraordinary in both the occurrence both good and bad.

Well, a last month I talked about buying the new rabbitry/chicken area. I also talked about awaiting pennies from heaven from Social Security. We even mentioned it again on our July Tea Time.

 Things that make me go "GRRR!" I wrote this whole blog and even edited it and when I opened it back up later only the above had saved! "E" for extraordinarily bad. So I begin again.

I might mention here that when we talk about something this much, we are stressing about it. The thing is that each of us were stressing in our own ways, but it was bad. We were sweating the full payment when they delivered the rabbitry/ chicken coop. Each day, I'd pull up my bank account and find no Social Security check and start the day off bad. Normally, I do not stress this type of stuff. I write it down and shove it into my GITG (Give it to God) box. But, I was still "playing" with this worry.

I finally went to see Bobby at the shed place. He greeted me with a "Hello!" and followed it up with, "We've got a problem and it's my fault." This is never a good thing. I followed him into the office with an overwhelming sense of dread.

8x12 Sort of like this
There was an addition error ( or multiplication ) made in the final cost of the building we ordered to the tune of $800 that we would owe in addition to the other. My first inclination was to cancel the order. But Mel and I had a partnership where we discuss almost everything concerning the homestead so I knew I had to talk to her first. We had yo have a building for the angoras. After losing two last month, we couldn't afford any more losses. We're talking about future profits here. I told this all to Bobby and asked if he had any solutions. "Well, I do have a repo. It's smaller, but it is wired, and insulated. I can let it go for $1,550."

Now I don't know about you, but when I hear "repo" it can mean several things. 1) shoddily built and surrendered, 2) owner had trouble paying for it, or 3) the previous owner trashed it. Yes, I've had more bad experiences than good in this area. We'd had some pretty bad thunderstorms over the past week so I felt sure that if it was poorly built or the previous owner had trashed the building, the evidence would show. We walked across the "showroom" yard to the building.

Bobby explained to me that the previous owners has cut some openings in the original building. The first thing I saw was a small pet door in the front door. Perfect for the cats to enter the rabbitry while we are in there. The front door also had a quarter panel cut into it that was screened giving an appearance of a Dutch door. Perfect for ventilation when it got cooler for the rabbits. There was also a 16"x16" screened door cut into the side. Bobby thought it was a perfect place for the air conditioner. It's not, but that's besides the point. But true to his words, there was R-13 batts of insulation between the studs all around the building. No framed window through. Two outlets in either on long sides and a light bulb fixture in the ceiling. The fact that the gamble roof started at four foot high would mean reconfiguring the cage set up and the building being smaller meant it could house less rabbits with a work station. But it was doable. There was also a four-inch square drain hole in one corner of the floor. I told Bobby I'd have to talk to Mel. Even though it was my money, it's our homestead. To sweeten the deal, he offered a payment plan of $71 a month. It would lift the financial burden off of us greatly.

Jenn and her boys
Down in Brunswick, my 6-month pregnant youngest daughter, Jenn with beloved in tow, was overseeing the clean up and out of my property there. She now has the house almost ready to be listed. God bless her.

I might have mentioned here that an oak tree fell (Murphey's Law extraordinarily bad) on my pool 14x25 house during a storm there. My homeowner's insurance would not pay for it. Instead they canceled my insurance because I wasn't living there full time anymore! It was part of the reason for Mel and my last trip there. But, we would have had to makes several trips there to accomplish what she did within a week by corralling old friends. The building has been demolished and removed, but she did manage to save one of the double pane 3x3 windows knowing I needed it. It will fit in the rabbitry very nicely. All the old carpet has been removed and while I've thought for all these years that nothing but the concrete slab was under them, lo and behold, beautiful wood tile flooring was underneath. I only have to replace the flooring in one 8x12 room. All it cost me for this labor and hard work was $65 for a pizza and beer party, and the pool table with stained glass light. I was going to give it away anyhow. Oh, and these friends of hers also provided the dumpster to haul away the trash. Not only is this child of mine an extraordinary pastry chef, she's got too many talents to mention. I can't sing her praises enough.

Anyhow, Mel agreed with me that $800 error was too much. We needed to cancel the order. We went to see the repo building. She agreed that it was better than nothing. We could work with it. By buying the building and carport separately, it would cost more up front, but it would save us money too. With the purchase of the previous set up, we'd have to put in a floor, wire it, and insulate the building. We calculated almost $2,000. The overage of buying the pieces separately amounts to $700.

We went in last Saturday to sign the paperwork on the rabbitry. We started pricing water proof walls to cover the insulation in the building. We couldn't do it for less than $400. Yep, we were counting pennies again. The hole in the floor was perfect for a poo drainage system Mel designed. We'd need PVC pipe for that and PVC panels for that. New cage wire because we wanted the outdoor set up exclusively for meat rabbit production. Mel said she HAD to show me the ReStore in Clarkesville. It was huge! It was honestly half the size of my old one. But we went, saw, and conquered. We both saw these light panels and went "Ah ha!" Just wait until you see what we do with them. We also picked up a kitchen sink and counter top for the butchering station and the work station inside the rabbitry. All in all, instead of costing us a couple hundred dollars it cost me $75. Stay tuned a video is coming.

At long last on Monday, the wayward check arrived in my account. Only three weeks late, but Hallelujah! I'm surprised I didn't wake Mel up with my loud "Thank you, Jesus!" and me jumping up and down doing the Snoopy dance of happiness. I went back to Bobby and said we needed to renegotiate our deal. His response was, "What? Already?" We went inside and paid him in full for the building. Then I went to Walmart to wire Jenn some money. She had offered to drive a Uhaul with all the things I wanted out of the house up here. Actually, her beloved offered. So he's coming Friday to take the strain off Mel. Wasn't I singing this child's praises above? It goes double now. He'll also be bring my two oldest grandsons to help with the heavy lifting. It is also on their way back home to their homestead.

Hmm, I think I'll go back into town to see Bobby again tomorrow. This time to order the carport. Think he'll welcome me with open arms seeing me this quick again? Just wait until I order our tiny houses when my house sells. We'll make his week.

While life on the homestead was fraught and stressed a week ago, it's better now. Maybe it's a good thing Blogger ate my previous written blog. When God closes a door, He always opens a window.

Be blessed.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Garden and Downsizing-Ugh!

This week on the homestead is all about the garden and I think the garden is officially done except for the tomatoes, and maybe potatoes and sweet potatoes. It's not from harvesting it. So I know this you may wonder. It's those darn, blasted chicken yet again. This time five of them wiggled their way under the gate and had a feast. Now to figure this out and actually do this seems smart and desperate of them. You would think we didn't feed them at all. I know we do because I buy the layer pellets each month. They have more than enough bugs, grubs, scraps, and assorted greenery to eat as well.

They have scratched up my zucchini plant which was still producing. The green stems of the potato and green bean plants have been like wised decimated. Every ripening tomato that was lower than three foot has had chunks pecked out of it. I'm so disgusted with the garden I haven't been in it for days. That's not like me at all. I am thankful that all my winter squash is above five foot. They haven't been able to reach them. Yet! Given enough time, they'd figure it out I have no doubt.

I'm planning out my late season crops garden as you read. I know I'll be planting spinach, potatoes, and not sure what else. Maybe try green peas again.

Mel has been busy with projects and work. As I said a few weeks ago, her part-time job has her pulling almost full time hours. But she is only paid part time. The kitchen cart is completed except for the painting. I could paint it, but I like the look of the raw wood. I may paint it later when we don't have so many irons in the fire. It would be an excellent late fall project when things slow up. Her newest project is building a firewood storage hut out of pallets. I say hut because it's 8' wide, 16'
Sort of like this-firewood storage hut
long, and 8' high with a roof. The small one she engineered last year out of plastic and pallets is useless. It doesn't keep the wood dry plus it doesn't hold that much wood especially since we heat our home with wood when it gets cold. Strange when you think about cold weather when it's 90 plus degrees outside. But, that's life on the homestead you prepare in advance as much as you can. We will be needing about six of them when we get the trees cut down. We only have hard wood on the property.

I'm slowly educating Mel on prepping/homesteading. It's a lot more comforting than scrambling at the last minute to find necessities. I'll make a semi self sufficient homesteader out of her yet. Our main problem right now is where to store everything for the long term. On my old homestead I had a 12x12 room for storing food stuff, but double wide trailers are not made for that unless we give up a bedroom. Right now, all our bedrooms are spoken for by us two and an office/craft room.

We are talking about getting a storage container to house our canned and dry goods. But then again we'd need a back hoe to dig out an area in the side of the mountain below use too. That's in the long range plan for the homestead. We are constantly tweaking our over all layout for the homestead. Like grading a driveway to the the tiny houses in the area where retaining wall is by the hill side and around behind the trailer. We are planning the ramp access for the trailer off the other side of the screened in patio. It will be easier than steps for me and simplifies bringing food stuff in.

I think the solution is to bring in at least one tiny house for me and let me vacate the main house. It would be back where the dog training area is now. That way in the original plan my bedroom and bathroom are becomes the inside the house pantry. We decided on two pantries over all. The storage container for long term storage and a inside monthly stores area. We decided to place the chicken/ rabbitry building on Mel's current side of the house instead of behind the barn. It's shadier and there's plenty of space for it and the driveway once the current chicken coop is removed. The chicken run/coop/rabbitry is our next big purchase as you read last week. We also will not have to cut down any trees. There are three big ones on the current rabbitry side.
10x16 with porch

My tiny house will be like pictured without the barn door and a window where the barn door is. Where the additional window is will be my bathroom. I plan to put a walk in tub/shower and a composting toilet in it. Gutters along the front and back will form a rain catchment system for it's water. Solar panels will provide all the electricity it needs for lights and stuff. It will have a small wood burning fireplace for heat. For 160 sq ft, it won't take much to heat or cool. Even with 100 plus temperatures here now, I'm rarely in air conditioning although it would be nice. I've learned to make do with ceiling or box fans. A loft area will provide extra storage or a extra bed for overnight visitors. It will have more than enough room for just me even with a simple kitchenette of a microwave, electric kettle, or single burning cooktop, sink, and a small 4 cu ft refrigerator/freezer. My twin sized bed and dresser will fit nicely in the small area by the door and a small desk/table for my computer and television. I'll even have room for a walk in closet. I won't be spending much time in there anyhow. All the major canning/preserving/cooking will be done in the community building, our trailer so mostly you'll be finding me there. The processing/spinning will also be done there also. I really will only need my tiny house for sleeping and maybe some alone time. I'll be in the garden and rabbitry working the rest of the time.

I've gotten over my infatuation with stuff. My old place has TOO much stuff. Somebody has got to take care of all that stuff and it ain't gonna be me any more. I don't need huge closets full of clothes. It's not like I'm preaching or working any more in the public eye. One clergy outfit is enough for hospital visitations of stroke survivors. I normally wear sweat shirts and t-shirts to work on the homestead. Pull on pants and shorts too. None of that takes much room. Yes, a winter coat and a couple of sweaters are bulky, but they'll hang up or sit on a shelf nicely. Honestly, if you have a washer and dryer, do you need much? Sure a week's worth of socks, underpants and bras are nice. All of that I mentioned is in my six drawer dresser now, or in a plastic tub awaiting a cooler turn in the weather before I swap out summer for winter. Oh yeah, my handful of flannel shirts also fit in the winter category. 

Simplify was my goal with my move here. Sure I wanted my lift chair out of convenience. My twin bed may go to my grandson since Mel has one I can use. There was a large amount of kitchen gadgets, craft stuff, and adaptability stuff I chose to keep because it makes my life easier. But everything is small stuff compared to what I've thrown or given away prior to my move here on purpose. Remember, I left over a 3,000 sq ft house that was overflowing with just stuff. Mel actually kept more of my stuff than I wanted as we went through the stuff. One man's junk is another man's treasures. In all total, what I brought would have only filled a 10x16 room, or the area of the size of my tiny house. My whole, new tiny house is the equivalent to the size of my old master bedroom. Talk about downsizing.

Honestly, why would I continue to move all that stuff around? I'm only me. Yes, admittedly some of the stuff I brought is being used in the barn/workshop, the rabbitry, in the community building, or being upcycled to other purposes now. That's okay. I still simplified my life greatly. Plus when I die, nobody will be burdened with my stuff. There are still a few pieces that my children want that I'm not willing to part with yet. But the majority can be used by whomever takes my place in this community we are building. I've done the clean up after four relatives died. It ain't pretty what happens to their prized possessions.  I just simplified it for who has to clean up after me. I sure as anything, I can't take it with me.

Well that's this week on the homestead. Be blessed.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Awaiting Pennies From Heaven

For weeks and months now, I've been expecting pennies from heaven. What I'm talking about is  the back payments Social Security owes me since July- December 2015. I've been patiently awaiting this wind fall and I'm still waiting. This sum was earmarked for relocation expenses to north Georgia. Well, I've moved here without it. Sort of. I'm still driving back and to getting my stuff up here. Now, it'll pay to have our driveway redone and the rabbitry/ chicken house. The problem is, I'm still waiting after being assured I would receive it last week. If I were the cursing type person, I'd be saying WTF! But I'm not. So I'm left wondering what is going on. I mean if they paid me interest on the money that would almost be okay, but they are not.

Tempest, RIP
Counting on the government's word, I ordered the rabbitry/chicken house enclosure to the tune of $1,600. On top of it all, we've lost another English Angora last weekend  It will be a big ouchie if it arrives before the moneys owed hits the bank. Our blue English angora doe, named Tempest. She was battling a number of factors like mites and sore hocks. She was actually healing until the infection we were fighting went systemic.We are comforted in knowing we did everything possible for that little rabbit. But sometimes, your best is not good enough. We can't afford another loss to cut into our Angora wool harvest or breeders. Not to mention the cost involved in the rabbits' purchase, housing, and feeding. It's a good thing I arranged to buy five more English angoras. But, two of our unrelated does are dead. It will take a year to recover from the loss.

One of the new babies
Yes, it would be simpler to line breed the rabbits (father to offspring) but the major issue I have from doing this is genetic faults are not diluted. Dustin ( our grey angora buck) is still in his prime and can father quite a few litters. But, the newly purchased buck is an ermine which is not NARBA showable color class. In case you didn't know, the ermine coloring is a cross between a white, grey, and pearl. They have black or grey tipping to their fur. That would hurt in sales of his fathered kits. Of course, those purchasing the angoras as woolers would love the silver grey color of the wool. It has a luster which shines like silk in the finished dyed yarn.

Genetically, we could breed all the new does (4 related offspring) to Dustin to gain some separation and enhance the grey coloring. For the next cycle, we could use one of the offspring REW buck from the current batch to dilute the gene pool more. Or, we may just buy another buck with favorable wool, body type and color would be easier. We can hold back the ermines for 4-H students and spinners.

In the mean time, the chickens are still terrorizing my garden. I'm looking forward to eating what I grow next year. Sigh.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This Update is Brought to You by the Letters D, B, and C

(We are traveling this weekend)

So this week we have been planning to go to the Golden Isles for a long weekend. No, it's not vacation. I'm finishing my moving out process. It also means the last of my stuff is coming up here. It's a good thing Mel cleaned up the barn. It will be stored there until our tiny houses are built. We are still a couple months away from that.

Mel has been working 9-1 each day at her job. It seems that home office finally decided to train her in her job. After a year. Government jobs, ya gotta love them, right? She's been hopping between one location to another on a daily basis instead of two days a week. It seems that they are coming up on funding review and that's the reason they are doing it now in a hurry.

Our free video editor went to pay for use. We had made several videos during the past couple of weeks and needed to edit them before uploading them.  It made for a flurry of internet searches to find a new one so we could edit our YouTube videos. I suggested just buying a program out right with Mel arguing that we should be able to get a fairly decent one for free. We finally found one that we both could agree on after each trying a couple of them. So we are back in business.

It doesn't help that Mel's truck windshield got hit by a rock on her last trip with me. The little ding spread with our heat wave to show a crack almost to mid line of her windshield. She got pulled over for it and was given a warning. Joy, joy. What fun she is having out and about. I took her Tuesday and we carpooled it back to the homestead for more fun with rabbits and pickles.

Tempest, Blue English Angora
On the homestead, she's been dividing her time between her workshop, where she's rebuilding our rolling cart, to nursing ill bunnies. Tempest is still nursing her sore hocks and is playing it up big time with Mel. She hobbles around her cage lifting her now healed front feet in the air  for attention. Her rear feet are healing nicely.

As many know, rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. She is a heavy sleeper.  Tempest has to be around here with the chickens, dogs and cats. She's been loving her time in the bunny hospital aka Mel's air conditioned bedroom. She was flopped over on her side when Mel went to check on her. Mel being Mel spoke to her through the cage in a loud, corny voice she does. Mel even poked her through the cage. Tempest would not rouse. Mel thought she had lost another English Angora. The rabbit was only sleeping because when Mel reached into the cage and picked her up, the rabbit looked at her with a startled look. I might also mention this rabbit has been treated for a body mites. So she's almost hairless. She looks so pitiful.
Dustin, Gray English Angora

Mel came rushing in from checking on the rabbits Monday. "Dustin has diarrhea! What do I do?" Nothing will kill a rabbit faster than diarrhea in the summer time. They can't drink enough to keep them hydrated.  I told her to empty out his cage. To give him only timothy hay and put some apple cider vinegar into a clean water holder. We bleach and clean their water bottles and food dishes routinely. In fact, we had done it over the weekend. Nothing had changed drastically in his environment to cause the stomach upset. After Mel returned from work, she bathed his hind end of all the mess. Straw and poop everywhere.

In the end, so to speak, there was nothing wrong with him. What Mel thought was diarrhea was just rabbit poo drenched with urine. Once cleaned off, he was his usual playful self and getting into everything. She clipped his poo trail because I'm dangerous with scissors. Now electric shearers is a different story, I can handle those fine. We have yet to get those. They can be a bit pricey for good ones. But they are in the budget for two months from now with the purchase of the new rabbits.

In the garden, I have been waiting and on tomato watch. The one and only tomato we had earlier this month has been joined by about fifty or more little tomatoes. Considering the tomato plants themselves are now 6' high, it's about time.  That first tomato started to go yellowish-orange. I could almost taste it. The first tomato to harvest from our new beds. Every morning I'd go out and peruse my tiny garden. I'd retrain feeler vines, talk to the plants themselves and hand pick any varmint that was trying to damage them. The chickens have gotten used to my routine because they wait for me to throw the offenders over the fence for them to munch on.

This first tomato was my pride and joy. It had gotten so heavy that it carried its branch to the ground. I placed straw under it to cushion it from the ground. It was now on its way to be harvested. Imagine my surprise to find that 6" tomato half eaten this week. I picked it up from its cozy bed and just stared at it. It was then I noticed not the rounded bite marks of an insect or even a rabbit, but the "V" shaped bite marks of a chicken. GRRRR! I threw the tomato into the compost bin. The chickens raced for it, and then squawked loudly because I'd thrown it into the center and they couldn't reach it.

The chickens strike again! But their uncontrolled free ranging days are numbered. They need to enjoy them while they can. As fun as they can be, I'm tired of them thinking my house is theirs to come and go as they please. I'm tired of cleaning up their poop, or slipping on it. But most of all, I want to be able to eat my own vegetables that I grow for us. Giving them scraps and leftovers is fine, but not everything the greedy buggers. I can honestly say, I'm going to enjoy culling day. At least I know what they are eating was good stuff, but it was meant for us. They are eating all of my garden, their chicken food, the scraps, and whatever they find when they are foraging around the yard. So far I've harvested 2 lbs of green beans, 3 lbs of zucchini, 1 winter squash pumpkin and that's been it. They have eaten the rest! And, they say sharks only live to eat and make babies. What about chickens?! They even eat their young.

I know, I know, I always seem to complain about the chickens, but can you blame me? Yes, they give us eggs but compared to what we've lost is free eggs really worth it? Something doesn't balance. Around here right now, we are the Cockeyed Homestead under chicken rule. The chicken building can't get here fast enough. Unfortunately, too late for a garden this year.

Next year, I'm (human) taking control back. (Laughing wickedly and maniacally) I will rule, or so they will let me think so. Yes, insanity is hereditary. It's gleaned from rampant homestead animals and plants. No, not the illegal kind of plants either. If not careful not only will be talking to yourself but answering yourself too.

Okay, so I'm dreaming now. Any minute now Whitie will crow and wake me up. Ah, there he is now. It was a nice dream while it lasted. The Cockeyed Homestead is brought to you by the letters D, B, and C for Darn, Blasted Chickens. It's a good thing I'm not home right now. I hear sirens approaching to come and take me away from the homestead.

I watched this a couple of years ago. Enjoy while we're away. Shaking my head sadly. I didn't read between the lines and listen to her.