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, June 25, 2017

Forward Progress Finally

After the fiasco of the past few weeks, we are finally moving forward in building our homestead.

For our YouTube audience, it's been a long absence from any new video productions. When we ain't doing nothing, there's no sense in videoing it. Sure I've been canning, but it's not something they can't see or learn on fifty other sites. As far as cooking videos, I haven't made anything worthy of videoing. The rain has kept us indoors as much as possible. So no building, animal updates, or gardening stuff. Still, we have to get back into video making mode again.

The hardest part of building these new structures is digging the holes for the 4x4 posts. Each structure has 12 of them. It takes Mel a week with the post hole digger to do twelve. Mind you she's doing it with not a sprained wrist, but a broken one. We cut the 8' posts in half so the 4' are anchored two feet into the ground for added stability. These will allow the pallets to be screwed into them. We don't want the predators gaining access. We'll be stapling chicken wire to the outsides of the pallets also to hold the little ones in. This will allow the rabbits to run around the large enclosure while we groom them. 24x12 is plenty of room for them to scamper and binky to their heart's content. We'll also be seeding an area, not enclosed by the tarp, with rabbit yummies like Timothy, orchard, rye grasses, and clover for them to "free range" in. Straw will be under the cages. We decided to reuse the smaller cages we built for the bucks. The new larger 24x36x24 cages will be for the does. Building this five-plex was an adventure and a half. We put in a drop down nest boxes and a shelf that a momma rabbit can hop on to for getting away from the babies. Yes, they are the Taj Mahal for the does. We are reusing the old hutches as grow out cages and quail cages.

We are now entering the second stage of our rabbitry. The breeding/ pedigree part of raising Angoras. This last year has been spent getting to know our rabbits and get them on a grooming schedule. With Dustin, Mel's original Angora, out of the lineup indefinitely, I'm searching for two does and a buck for our breeding program. The quail are our next expansion animal into homesteading. We spend a year with each animal before getting the next. The next big jumps are to goats and then Guinea hogs.

As for me this weekend, I have been summoned home. I've honestly not been home since Thanksgiving. The reason is simple bad weather and my health. I have a triple A (Aortic Abdominal Aneurysm) growing. My cardiologist is concerned but it isn't big enough to warrant surgery. That doesn't mean it won't blow, but it's unlikely. Knowing quite a bit about these things I've felt like I have a time bomb in my belly and been afraid to go anywhere especially not 6 hours on the interstate. My dad called me. He and his wife are celebrating their Silver Wedding Anniversary. I honestly think it has been longer. I haven't added it up, but he says it's their silver, but he has Alzheimer's too. It's actually their 28th. I broke out my calculator. I'm just happy he remember she's his wife. He often forgets and searches for my mother.

Another new area for our expansion is a grain trial when the old rabbit hutches are and bush hogging the orchard. Whether we plant the orchard this year or not all depends on timing. We still have the driveway and house to fix when I return to the homestead.

So until next week,

"Y'all have a blessed day."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Still in a Holding Pattern for the Last Time

We are still on hold for improvements to the homestead because of the rain. GRRRRR!

The date for the delivery of our new carport/rabbitry/chicken house came and went. The day of the supposed delivery, I got a call from the installer if he could arrange delivery until the next day by 10 AM. Okay, I thought. We still had time before the Angoras and Jersey Woolies/ Lionheads would be in danger from the heat. It's only one day.

The next day, I waited until noon and still, they had not shown up. I started calling. The cell phone did not have voice mail set up. By four o'clock, I'd given up trying to call. A little after five, the installer called and said he was twenty minutes out...was that okay? Heck, yes! I thought. I had already started dinner. I was making shrimp scampi, and it doesn't hold well, but get me my carport. The daytime temperatures were in the 80s and the Angoras were showing signs of stress. We sat down to dinner and Mel said, "Watch them come up now." They didn't.

At 7 PM, I got another call from the installer. There was no way he was driving his 4-wheeled drive truck and trailer down our rutted driveway. HUH!!! I drive my minivan up and down this same driveway a couple times a week. He suggested we get our money back for the carport and he'd already called the company. They would be calling us. Admittedly, our driveway is rough but we had our double car garage and our rabbitry delivered. The driver for the rabbitry (a full 8x12 already built) storage shed backed his 30-foot trailer and truck down this same driveway. To say we were hot with anger was an understatement.

We figured it was late and the installer didn't want to be bothered to try. It was Memorial Day weekend and he wanted to get started to enjoy it. So Memorial Day weekend, we shaved all our rabbits down to 1/4" length fur. It was costly to lose that income, but we couldn't have them die due to the heat. The rabbits themselves ain't cheap at a minimum of $50 a piece. They look like large drowned rats without their luxurious hair. We'd moved them out of their rabbitry to the outside cages in preparation for the transition to their new one under the carport structure. It wasn't how we wanted to spend our Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday the company called us. They weren't offering our money back, but a new delivery date. June 14th! Another two weeks of waiting. We were outraged. We had already started dismantling the old rabbitry. While removing the rabbit cages and poo removal system we found rat nests! A bunch of them had set up house in the walls. So while removing the cages and poop system, we were slipping and sliding on wayward ball bearing hard rabbit poo, baby rats and dodging grown rats scampering to get away from us.  We pulled down all the light panel walls and insulation. We were also in the process of scrubbing it all out in the preparation of converting the shed for food storage.  We voiced our complaint to the company about yet another delay for as good as it would do. Not days but weeks. They responded that they would check the schedule again. By Friday, they called back with a sooner date. The next Friday, would that be okay? A week sooner. No, it wasn't but we agreed.

Dustin after grooming
It was only a delay of one more week. We watched the daytime temperatures carefully. We lost one of the Jersey Woolies, Early Grey, due to the rising temps. She was the sweetest of the bunch. Guaranteed wool producer of five ounces of fiber, 3" long every four months. We make a cockeyed blend of yarn that's Jersey Woolie/Angora, and Merino wool. Super soft and warm, but not pure Angora.  Her fiber will be missed greatly. When we groomed all the rabbits we also treated them for ear mites. Mel's self-black Angora was the next to be stricken. He was hopping around his cage lopsided. We thought he'd had a stroke due to the heat. We brought him into Mel's bedroom which is air conditioned to cool him down. We watched over him the rest of the night.

To lose Dustin would be an even greater loss to our rabbitry. He is also Mel's last remaining, original English Angoras. He is the unrelated buck for our breeding rotation. Mel was heart sick. His head tilted to one side and his limbs appeared weakened. An extensive research project began on how to care for him. I found that yes, heat could do this but also an ear infection. I purchased the antibiotic and started administering it to him. He is still in Mel's room two days later. She has the air conditioner running, but the door open otherwise it would be too cold for humans. Dustin is loving it. Whether he survives as a productive member of our rabbitry breeding program is still up in the air.

They can't get the carport here fast enough. This is starting to cost us big buxes! But I'm not done yet. Once again the company tried to deliver the carport structure. Failure. They had two suggestions for us; 1) They could leave all the parts at the top of the road, and then we would be responsible for bringing it down the hill and installing it ourselves, or 2) We could pay them extra monies to unload the trailer into the back of their truck, and then they'd drive it down. I didn't bother to ask how much. I was too angry. I instead emailed the company. Of course it being a weekend again, I can't reach anyone until Monday.

Sort of like this
We've decided to forget about the carport and get a refund for the building. This is ridiculous! We went out after the last cancellation and bought the materials for us to build it ourselves. Using cattle panels and pallets, the price was under $400 for two buildings. One 24-foot covering for the rabbitry and one 20-foot for the chickens. It would have practically built except Mel hurt her wrist and neither of us can lift the pallets into position one-handed.

We are still on hold with the driveway until the carport is up and we can corral the new chicks. They aren't smart enough to be safe from heavy machinery and dump trucks. We can't get the electrician and plumber in here because of the rain.  The storage building can't be used until power is rerun to it and the carport. So it's delay, after delay, after delay.

Oh, our roosters have not only entered into adolescence by crowing. It seems that their hormones have kicked in too. They have started mounting the hens. The little one not the older ones. Much to the irritation to the hens. They are still a couple months off from laying.

So until next week...
Y'all have a blessed day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Something to Crow About

This morning, I was sitting at my computer when I heard the first, low, strangling attempts of crowing from our young chickens. I knew it was going to happen soon. I figured about a month or so. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this at the crack of dawn this morning. Even Mel woke enough to ask if this was the babies crowing.

I'm not real sure, because it was still to dark to see, but I think it was Houdini making all the noise.  I've heard of young roosters crowing at about seven weeks old, but these babies are twelve weeks old. So, they are a bit behind on the growing curve. So far today, since daylight is in full force, I haven't heard it again.

I know this is only the beginning, but as a proud mama hen type I had to do a bit of my own crowing. It looks like I have THREE buff roosters out of the five. Not a good ratio at all. Someone or two may be heading for freezer camp in a few weeks. Right now they are less than three pounds a piece. I'll let them fatten up a bit first. Now the Rhode Island Reds are holding to the planned ratio of two roosters, I think.

We have one hen (yes she's a hen) that is definitely not a RIR or a Buff. Not sure what she is. She's not red enough to be a RIR or light enough to be a Buff. She may be a different type or a mixture of the two. She'll live in the Buff side of the hen house and run. A very tiny crown and an almost nonexistent wattle.

We'll have to buy some more Buff hens at a later date. Probably later in the summer for butchering. I should have done it earlier, but didn't want to have to butcher a lot of chickens plus set up the garden. There's only so much you can handle when homesteading. Since I'm the one that tends and weeds the garden and the only one that butchers animals, I have my limits. I have other things demanding my time including physical therapy once a week and the rabbits.

Speaking of time. I think we lost our WWOOFER, Amy, and son. I haven't seen them since October or November. It's  a shame too because plenty of extra hands would have worked wonders here at the Cockeyed Homestead. Instead of going full tilt, we are moving at a snail's pace only partly because of being short staffed. The tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, green beans, pole beans, and corn did get planted but it took several weeks instead of doing it all in a day. A wealth of information was lost by them.

It's been in the high 50s and low 60s with all this rain. I've been taking advantage of it by canning. So far, I've pressure canned about five pounds of navy beans into baked beans, four pounds of small dry limas beans, and four pounds of kidney beans into chili beans. I still have about six pounds of dried black eyed-peas to can for the following year. How do I know how much I'll need for a year? I simply kept a running mental total of what I've bought the last year.

We're a Zaycon Influencer. If you didn't know, Zaycon is a farm direct meat supplier of hormone free meat. I'd bought 10 pounds of all beef hotdogs. Not the kind made with beef waste products but whole meat ground like ground beef. We like baked beans with this. I also bought 36 pounds of hickory smoked bacon, 40 pounds of 80/20 ground beef, and 40 pounds of sausage links. With all this meat in the freezer, I need vegetable sides to go with them. Now keep in mind there are only two of us one this homestead. This is approximately a year's worth of these items for us. Throw in some steaks, beef roasts, pork chops from our local sourced farms and the butchering of our own chickens and rabbits, we have plenty of meat for a year.

Mel hails from England so a meal of Bangers and mash with green peas is often a full meal for us. I make a mean onion gravy to accompany it. Breakfast fare such as bacon, eggs and grits are also appears a fair amount also. It all depends on what is going on during the day. If it's a quick, slop on the table because we've been busy this often is the quick fix.

We'll that's it for this week from our homestead.
Y'all have a blessed day.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Rainy Days on the Homestead

It's been raining here on the homestead. In fact, I'm thinking about building an ark. No, not really. It hasn't rained that much. Still, for the past couple of weeks, it has rained more than not.

It's great for the garden.  It's even helping replenish our spring and our creek. A real shame we didn't get the totes for our rain catchment system yet. We've had a few inches dropped on us in the past couple weeks and it's cooler. Yesterday during a break in the weather, I did a tour of the garden and pulled a few weeds. Since we mulched the beds with straw the seeds in it started to sprout. No worries, I just fed them to the rabbits. They loved it.

Speaking of rabbits, all but one rabbits eating fodder now. Keekee, a Jersey Woolie/lionhead, is the only holdout. So I'm still buying rabbit pellets. You may have heard Mel talk about her. She's an ill- tempered bunny. She'll growl and try to nip at your fingers whenever you put your hands anywhere near her. We'd sell her, but she's got such luscious fur. Three inches long and soft as any of our angoras. We can't get rid of her because of her bad temper. Nobody would want her. Everyone wants nice bunnies even us. I'd cull her but there's not enough meat on her for a meal unless I made rabbit stew with plenty of potatoes and carrots. When she's sheared, she only weighs a pound.

So what do you do on the homestead on rainy days? Not much. Most of our time is spent on the internet or watching Netflix shows. Sad isn't it? I mean other than the morning and afternoon chores of feeding and watering the animals, not much else can be done. All we want to do is curl up in the bed with a good book.

When there's  a break in the weather, we go out to the new metal structure to build the new chicken coop. But most of the time the lightning is so bad, it's not a good idea. Or driving metal fence posts or connecting fencing in the rain is not a pleasant idea for that matter. A metal roof and metal supports make excellent lightning rods.  Have you ever seen St. Elmo's fire run along a fence line? I have. It's real interesting to watch, but not when you are holding onto the fencing. But still, we try. It is slow going. The weather is putting a damper on our videos too.

 I could always cook, but without the work, we are not so hungry. I guess I could do some canning videos. Lord knows the weather has been cool enough to stand to be in the kitchen. But it means a trip to the grocery store or the farmer's market. In the rain? I don't drive unless I have to. Maybe when I have to go for my therapy session or my podiatry appointment, I'll make a quick dash into the store.  
What am I talking about!? There's nothing quick about the way I move these days. I'll be soaked by the time I get inside and then be chilled by the air conditioning in the store. I mean I'm a one handed gal who walks with a cane. Hello! There's no holding an umbrella. At times like this, I really wish my stomach tolerated coffee because most stores offer complimentary coffee. I guess I could always pray for a break in the showers. My daddy used to tell me that I need not worry about getting wet "because poop floats." Okay, he was just being ugly and didn't really mean it. Hmm, I sometimes wonder after he tells me that for the umpteenth time, I'm a product of his loin, so what does that make him?

chicks in the garden
The chicks are adolescents now. About three-quarters of their adult size. The roosters' voices are changing so soon they will begin crowing or at least they are trying to now. They utter a squawk in hoarse undertones. It'll probably be in another month or so. I can hardly wait. It's been pretty quiet since Whitie died.

But rainy days are no fun for anyone except ducks and we don't raise those. All the chicks are stuck on the front porch. The roosters start fighting. The little hens try to roost on the Camellia bushes and are getting so big that only one can fit on a branch at a time. The branches can't hold that much weight. They start yelling at others trying to get on because they will all fall to the ground.

When bored, like they always are when it rains, they'll play "king of the mountain" on the wood pile next to the dining room window. A few chicks will get over rambunctious and actually fly into the window. The dazed looks on their face when they hit are precious. "Duh! Where did that come from!" Every evening they look at me through the window as I'm on my laptop. Just as curious as can be about "that human that feeds us." They will peck at the glass or the fan to get my attention. Not that they are out of food, but just because I'm not looking at or talking to them.

 Just like every morning, they trail behind me as I go to the rabbitry building (No! we still haven't moved the rabbits). The older hens have shown them that Jo gives them goodie! The unsprouted seed from the fodder system. I've started spreading the seed in the area where their run will be. Any uneaten seed will continue to grow if they let it. Once they are in their run permanently, I'll continue the process and give them their ration of fermented seed for feeding time. It shouldn't upset their young tummies by then.

That's it for this soaking wet weekend.

Y'all have a blessed day.