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, 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.