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, October 23, 2016

This week on the homestead not much has gone on. In part because Mel has been under the weather, and the other was my doctor appointments hither and yon. I was driving back and forth between Demorest, Gainesville, and Athens. It's amazing how quick you settle into a rural life. I actually make an audible groan when I have to get in my car and leave the homestead. My van actually hates climbing up the 1/8th of a mile hill with all the broken pavement and clay. Somehow we've got to come up with $5,000 to fix the driveway properly. We've approached our neighbors who live along the driveway about sharing the cost of repair, but they aren't interested. We of course, are on the lowest point of the leeway. If I pay to fix it everybody benefits. That doesn't seem fair, does it?

Mel did manage to put in most of the rabbit poo disposal system. If she would work at the rabbitry little by little each day, it would have been done inside a week. Now instead two months later, it's a haphazard affair. Nothing is totally complete and it drives me nuts. It drives her nuts because its such a mess and she gets frustrated.

Bennie Dufus has finally reached the point where he finally trusts us and has become trainable. It has only taken three months to reach this point. I figure within six months, he'll be disciplined enough to sell so I can get the money I paid  for him back with interest. He's actually becoming a good dog like his German Shepherd genetics destined him to be. Although still extremely playful and loving, discipline is evident. You can see that he is figuring out what it is that you are wanting him to do. He's trying to please you so long as his "puppy" behaviors aren't engaged. He no longer chases our vehicles onto the main road but stops just short and climbs the ridge towards home. He still has his dufus moments which will eventually be trained out of him as his attention span grows. Now if we can just get some coordination between his huge paws and his brain going on, he won't move like a dufus too.

I'm still cleaning out the raised beds. I loped off the tops of my heirloom tomatoes yesterday for rooting. I must have put twenty top leaves with 2' stems in my five gallon bucket of rain water. These will go into the greenhouse to overwinter. we will have a jump start on tomatoes and herbs for next Spring. I wasn't paying attention too closely and pruned a branch with a cluster of tomatoes on it. There are still tomatoes growing on the plants. We'll probably have fresh tomatoes until first frost in mid November, if I don't pull them up. I'm kind of hem-hawing around with pulling them up. I do love fresh tomatoes in my salad. I'm not looking forward to grocery store gassed or the price of this fresh vegetable.

Mel and I have been very active with The Homestead Network online/YouTube. They are a PG-12, Christian based group of homesteaders from urban to rural. They do live, interactive shows across YouTube. We've even met a couple members and a slew of homesteaders within two hours driving distance from us in person. Homesteading can be such a solitary life that it's great communicating with other like minded souls. We offer each other solutions to problems we may be experiencing, support, sharing news, checking on each other, and just general comradery. We'll Skype or call each other often when not in a chat room of a live show. The way God intended us to be.

We haven't been invited to have our own live show because our channel is not Christian enough in our videos. Imagine that! I'm a minister and not Christian enough. But, it's just as well. I don't shove religion down people's throats, but instead, go where the Lord leads me. I'm not an evangelist, but a pastor who guides. I prefer tending to my flock and leading by example, rather than bible thumping. Not that I think that the evangelical side is bad, someone has got to bring souls to the Lord. That's not my calling.

Well, that's it for this week. Until next Sunday... Have a blessed day.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rabbits, Rabbits, and the Rabbitry

Last week I talked at some length about the garden plans and touched on the meat rabbits. This week I'm going on about the English angora rabbits and the rabbitry building, and touching on the garden.

The rabbitry building is coming along very slowly. I wish I could help Mel more but only being able to lend A (as in one functioning) hand doesn't help much. All I can do is assist rather than build which still irritates me to no end. I currently wish that I hand my mother's hand which were large with beefy fingers. She wore a size 8 ring. Or my paternal grandma's really large hand with a 11 ring size because then I could grab and hold a pair of pliers or wire dikes single handed. But no, I had to born with my maternal grandma's hands very petite and dainty with long straight finger. In case you were wondering, I wear a size 4 1/2 to 5 ring. The half size makes a huge difference as in one of the cooking videos I made where I lost my engagement ring of my 20th anniversary wedding set. You see when I first moved here I weighed a whopping 183 lbs. Today, at my morning weigh in, I weigh 150 lbs. Don't ask me how but it probably has something to do with not being able to get out of my house much with my husband alive. Here I'm constantly doing stuff. My wedding set spins around on my finger. I should get them sized down, but can't bear to take them off and leave them anywhere just yet. I will someday.

But I digress (what's new with that, huh?). The rabbitry ceiling is done. The walls, two walls are only partially complete. The floor is still undone. When looking at it, it looks a mess right now. But in our minds we want it done. So what have we been working on? The poo drainage system. Unlike their JerseyWooly/Lionhead and American Chinchilla rabbit cousins, the angoras are in an enclosed space with flooring. We don't want rabbit poo on that. Remember all those light panel covers we bought from the ReStore to do the walls? We had a few left over. Although we've seen similar rabbit waste removal systems online, we wanted something different. Of course we did, we're the cockeyed homestead. The system we designed has the poo and urine running towards the front where it is caught by a gutter which in turn is angled to drop into a Tinker Toy configuration of sewer pipes to all drain into a five gallon bucket at the end under the building. If the poo gets stuck on the panels as it's apt to do, we simply flush the system
with water. The bucket at the end has holes drilled into the bottom and lower third of the bucket for water drain off. we did dig a small trench lined with pea gravel giving the water and liquid waste some place to go. The solid poo will go into the garden beds for slow release fertilizer or sold to other gardeners. We are thinking $7 for 10 pounds, but our beds' needs come first. We will be also making rabbit poo tea, a liquid fertilizer. At $7 a gallon, it's a bargain.We have used both in our garden with great success.

We have started up the fodder system again. This summer was way too hot. Now that we have an air conditioner in the rabbitry, we can grow it in there during the summer. With 15 rabbits and looking to breed them, the standard, commercial rabbit food gets expensive. Over the summer we spent over $100 on feed for them, plus their timothy hay and black oil sunflower seeds (another casualty of the chickens) :o( I ordered from the seed and feed company, 100 lbs of winter wheat and 96 lbs barley seeds. The cost $66 for a year of fodder that will feed all our existing rabbits and kits for a year! Is there any question of why I made this choice? Plus, I know it's organic. That ties directly into our record keeping for organic certification process of our produce. While in the Spring the rabbits could eat it or leave it, the rabbits are gobbling it down especially the new angoras we got last month.

Speaking of the new angoras...they now have names. We ran a poll on our Tea Time for August. The commenters had a choice between 6 buck names, 4 doe names, or they  could write in their names. At the end of the month we had winners for the two bucks and one doe babies of the new English angoras I purchased.
Angus is the buck with all the furnishings on his face. 
Alby is his brother with the tan tipped nose.
And, the precious, little doe is named Moira.
They join their parents

We decided to use Celtic/Irish/Scottish names for all the new rabbits in our rabbitry. Benjamin and Daisy were already named by their previous owner, Kim

Well with the new triple hole cage Mel made this week, we now have six pure bred English angoras in our rabbitry. I've got feelers out for at least four more does before the end of the year. Then we can start breeding them. Although, we might go ahead and breed Daisy to Dustin, our only surviving buck of Mel's. That's after I build some drop down nest boxes for the doe cages for Mel to install. The are only 10x14x8 so I should be able to manage that providing the J clips and their pliers behave. I thought this was perfect. It solves the problem of a rabbit having their babies on the wire and it
Got this pic off Pinterest
mimics nature by giving the doe a burrow to have their kits in. I also won't have to worry about baby proofing the whole cage because when the kits are big enough to jump out they'll be too big the wiggle out between the 1x2 cage wire. I plan to do the same thing with our meat rabbits, but Colleen's will be proportionally larger. I'm thinking 12x18x10 because she can have twelve or more kits at a time. English angoras rarely have more than eight babies at a time, and they are considerably smaller. Rabbits grow pretty quick. They'll double their birth size in a matter of a few weeks.

Talking about babies. Another new happening sort of on the homestead is a new arrival. My #4 daughter, Jenn, delivered a healthy baby boy this week. Murphey Fíon Behan was born 10/4/2016 at 1:27 PM. He weighed 8 lbs and 4 oz and was 20.5 in long. You may remember, Jenn moved into my Golden Isles house back in August and last month brought a U-Haul with my things to Cornelia last month. She was released from the hospital just in time to be evacuated to Charlotte, NC to be safe from Hurricane Matthew.

That's it for this week. Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Garden Cleanup and Beyond

I have been so disgusted by the DB Chickens in my garden, I practically gave up on it except to cut a few fresh herbs, salvage some tomatoes, and watch for whatever insect that's eating the leaves of a fairly new potato plant starts. I usually will squish the head of the offending insect and throw them in a bucket to feed to the chickens later. But they have had free range of the garden since the dog fight between our Nnyus and Sheba two months ago. That's pretty bad. I haven't even watered it. I haven't weeded. I haven't side dressed or pruned. Nothing, nada, zilch.

It broke my heart to see the damage the chickens and dogs had done to my once flourishing vegetable patch. Granted this being the first year, I'd only planned to test the area for what would grow and fresh eating. Actually before the chickens and dogs, the garden was doing quite well so I have hope for next Spring, But I'm not waiting until Spring. I'm starting now.

I've decided to fix Mel's hoop greenhouse and make it work for us instead of being an eyesore. You might remember, it was destroyed by Mel's first foray into goat ownership a year and a half ago. It will first have to be moved out to the area where the chicken coop was. This is no mean feat because not only did she build the hoop house but she raised it by placing it on pallets. It might be easier to dismantle it and then move it. I bought 2 of the 100' rolls of new plastic already. I forgot the pipe insulation, but we have a few weeks before it really cools down.

Keiran and Colleen
Mel also built shelves inside to plant vegetable starts on. Once dismantled, I've got some reconfiguring to do. My plan is to put Keiran and Colleen, my buck and doe American Chinchilla meat rabbits in the greenhouse over winter on straw bales. Why? The rabbits will throw off their heat to warm the greenhouse for my plants, but be saved from snow or freezing rain.Their manure will soak into the straw bales so when I mulch my Spring garden with it there is a slow release fertilizer effect. The straw from the new chicken coop has to compost at least six months to a year.

I'll also be breeding Colleen this month and again in four months (October and February). So the babies will be in there also. When the second set of kits are born, it will be slaughtering day for the first batch.  If the litter is extremely small, a third breeding is necessary before the summer heat hits. By working in breeding cycles this way, we are overwhelmed by having to slaughter a huge amount at one time.

These are big rabbits weighing in at 12 lbs a piece. They'll be a year old in October and never been bred before. Am I worried about inbreeding brother and sister? Nope. Their offspring are destined for the deep freezer. Any bad traits will be history in 12-16 weeks. Their hearts, livers, kidneys, and brains will become dog food. The meat will feed us. Their pelts will eventually clothe us or bring us cash. That's Colleen and Kieran's purpose on this homestead. You may remember Colleen is our escape artist rabbit too. I usually wait until my rabbits are a year old to breed them. Even though everything I've read says 5-6 months old is fine. I just like to see them as grown ups. I mean the average lifespan of rabbits is 16 years. I figure at least ten of those are reproductive years before retiring. I also don't look at my meat rabbits as just baby making machines either. I figure breeding them twice to three times a year is fine. I mean take a look at the numbers with me...

Litter size                       6-12 kits
Pre-Butchering weight  7-10 lbs each
Actual meat for us         4-7 lbs each for total of 24 - 120 lbs per breeding cycle
                                                      (2-3X a year) and yes, I've done this before.
Dog food                         6-12 lbs total
Pelt for us or sale          6-12
Other unusable bits for maggot farm for chickens
Bones used for bone broth for drinking and/or canning.

Waste- Zero

 I don't know about you, but how many times can you eat rabbit in a year? At the maximum count, that's 360 lbs of rabbit meat alone. That's almost a pound of rabbit meat every day and there is only two of us. A pound of meat covers both of us a meal unless it's prime rib. Don't forget, we'll also be raising some meat chickens too for some variety. Any dish that uses chicken or pork can be cooked with rabbit including sausage with some added fat including chicken fat although it is harder to grind unless partially frozen.

Jennifer and David (my daughter and son outlaw) love to fish and crab. I've taught all my girls the same thing my Daddy taught me... you catch it; you clean it. So they've done it since they were old enough to yield a knife. We can trade with them if they don't do everything I did on my property. Oysters, clams, shrimp, squid, or even octopus make tasty eating and with very little effort in getting them. It means a 10-hour round trip drive to pick them up but heck, I still have family there too so it won't be just a grab and go situation. I will miss the year around growing season down south though.

But as usual, I digress. In the greenhouse over the winter, I'll be growing tomatoes rooted from the organic tomatoes in my garden now. It's a perpetual thing. Take the suckers or clipped top of an existing plant and you get a new plant. Fresh greens for salads and rabbits. Strawberries in hanging baskets. Carrots and herbs planted in flats. The greenhouse will full of life so when the winter seems to be dragging on, all we'll have to do is step inside. We will be adding a heat lamp leftover from Mel's chicken hatching experiment for those nights well below freezing. Also the plants need light so we can put a grow bulb in it at other times too. It can't hurt the meat rabbits either. 

I'll leave room to start my vegetables in the Spring. Our official outside planting date is May 1st, but this year we had a late freeze so the plants I started Easter weekend didn't fair well without the greenhouse being in tact.  Wish us luck and a powerful green thumb.

Y'all have a blessed day!


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.