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.