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Archive for April, 2010

Young Bunnies on Pasture

Didn’t do much tonight.  We put the rabbits out on the grass to graze and exercise for an hour.  While B was watching them be rabbits, I planted some sweet potatoes and watered the tomatoes.  And that’s about it.  I should have run the weed eater around the fence, but laziness took over.  Guess I will have to play catch up tomorrow.

There is still so much to do.  Oddly, though, once everything is planted and all the animals are here and on

Planting Sweet Potatoes

pasture, we will go into maintenance mode for few weeks.  That will be merely routine of watering, feeding and changing paddocks for grazing.  Come mid June we will start harvesting beans, then tomatoes, then the other veggies.  By August, Brittan will be busy canning and I will be processing chickens.  That will be peak time.  Late October will find us gathering our first eggs and probably processing our first rabbits.

It’s quit a road to travel, but I’m enjoying the journey.  Especially on lazy spring evenings.

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Buff Orpington

The burb is expanding!  We have finally acquired some nearby grazing land to add livestock to our little farm in the suburbs.  A very nice couple in our Church have some acres and are wanting it grazed.  We have a desire to graze animals.  How perfect is that?  Last night we walked the land and struck a deal to lease some of it.  Let the expansion begin.

The first animals to go in will be our chickens.  We have chosen Buff Orpingtons because of their reputation for being good dual purpose birds (eggs and meat) and are easy to handle.  Seems like a smart idea for being new to chickens.

We also plan to add a dairy cow (preferably a Jersey, but we are open to what’s available in a short driving

Jersey

radius).  This will be an interesting challenge for us, since neither B nor I have any milking experience.  I’ve been around beef cattle (and even worked for a brief period of time in a stockyard once), but the dairy thing will be quite the learning opportunity.  But we love raw milk and making cheese, so we’re going to give it a go.

Finally, and the biggest surprise to us, is we will add some sheep.  It’s a surprise, because until very recently I didn’t think i even liked sheep.  But I’ve had a conversion experience.

Sheep are important grazers.  They eat the grasses and weeds cows don’t.  One article I read indicates that sheep and cows only overlap 35% in their grazing interests.  That means grazing a couple sheep with the cow will intensify the pasture management and fertilization.  We are interested in both hair sheep (don’t need shearing) and dairy sheep.  We have developed a real taste for sheep milk cheese and would like to try making it.  The only difficulty is finding dairy sheep in, or near, North Georgia.  We are looking for East Friesians for milk, and Dorper or Katahdin hair sheep.  Hair sheep, allegedly make the best meat, too.  It’s purported to be milder with less of that ‘muttony’ flavor.  We’ll see.

Dorper

It would be easy to go to the market and grab any old sheep for grazing, but we want something specific.  This

East Friesian

could take longer.  Patience is not the most evident aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 6:22, in the New Testament) in my life.

Time to head to the office now.  But tonight I will be ordering chicken supplies.  It’s like picking our Christmas presents.  I’m downright giddy.

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The Rabbits are Here!

Wow, are we excited or what?

Our regular reader(s?) will know that from the very beginning we have dreamed of adding meat rabbits to our operation here in the ‘burb.  Now those dreams have come true.

I’ve been communicating with meat rabbit producers for months now, trying to find the right foundation stock.  I really wanted to breed American Chinchilla because they are attractive and are a heritage (read, rare) breed.  Finding ACs in a reasonable range of metro Atlanta turned out to be impossible.  But I did find a few producers of New Zealand rabbits.  NZs are the most common meat rabbit in the US, so there are some advantages of starting off with a well established meat producer.  And, with their white fluffy coats and pink ears, they make great pets for those who just want Thumper hopping around the old homestead.

We found a pair of siblings in Topton, NC and a pair of siblings in Macon, GA.  The plan, of course, is to breed the buck form one source to the doe from the other source and vice versa.

Yesterday, I made the spectacularly beautiful drive through the North Georgia mountains to North Carolina to pick up the first pair, which I had paid for in advance.  To my surprise, the very kind farmer (who also has milk goats, heritage chickens and German Shepherds), said “Since I haven’t sexed this group yet and might make a mistake, I’m going to give you all five of them.”   So, five bunnies, rather than two, made the trip back to the burb.  All I have to do now, is figure out how to tell the genders apart (note:  guess what my project will be after Church this afternoon?)

Next week, B and I go to Macon to pick up the other pair.  Our plans have changed, though, because of yesterday’s events.  I’m thinking if the genders work out right, we will keep a buck and two does from yesterday and will begin our operation with two bucks and three does, adding a fourth from the first generation of kindle.  That will allow us to fill our own freezer faster and be able to offer rabbits to the public sooner than expected.

So much to do.  So much to learn.  But………I’m lovin’ it!

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First the bad news.  I came home from work yesterday to find that all of our tiny oranges had fallen off the little tree.  Not one survived.  I’m bummed.  I don’t really like oranges, but B does.  And seeing them grow was pretty cool.  Oh well, maybe next time.

The good news; as I was watering last night, I found half a dozen peaches on one of our patio peach trees.  They are about the size of a squash seed right now.  I’m very excited.  After all, this is Georgia.  Peaches make sense.

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Happy Earth Day!

Apparently this is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  Who knew?  Who cares?  Suddenly, I do.

Until recently, things like Earth Day, slogans like ‘go green’ and their ilk, flew past me as just more noise from the hippie fringe of the far left.  Propaganda.  So I ignored it.

To be sure, it does appear that stewardship of the earth has been championed by an eccentric branch of society with a decidedly liberal bias.  That is unfortunate.  In my opinion, it is the Church who should be raising the standard and leading the way in demonstrating our care for God’s creation.  If I read my Bible correctly, when God created the world, he asked the human race to manage it for Him.  How are we doing?

If my wife asks me to do something, say, take out the trash, or vacuum or put away the dishes and I simply ignore the request because I’m too busy watching TV or reading a magazine or, dare I say it…… surfing the internet, what message have I sent her about the importance of our relationship?

If she gives me a gift she has worked hard on, or paid a high price for and I leave it in the closet, or drop it in the trash, what have I said to her about how I value our relationship?

I don’t buy most of the claptrap I hear from ‘environmentalists’, but I do share their concern for our earth.  The earth is not my ‘mother’.  It is not my ‘brother’.  It is not a living soul.  But care for it is my responsibility.  On this Earth Day, I’m calling out the Church, the Body of Christ.  Look around you.  What are you doing to show God how you feel about the beauty and wonder He has entrusted to you?

My morning Bible reading today included Deuteronomy 10:14, “To the Lord you God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.”  If we love God as much as we claim, and I believe we do, one way we can demonstrate it, is by respecting His created world.

Plant a tree. sniff a flower.  Pick up a piece of litter.  Gawk at the sunset.  Listen to a bird sing.  Follow a mountain stream.  Lay on your back and watch the clouds roll by.  Milk a cow.  Celebrate the earth.  It is a beautiful gift, designed by the Great Architect just for you.

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B and I had an amazing time in Hawaii.  I could move there in a heartbeat.  But all good things must come to an end, so now we’re home.

We were a bit concerned about the garden while we were gone.  Leaving for 6 days is risky, but we watered thoroughly before we left and figured that with all the disasters we’ve already encountered this spring, what’s one more risk?

Despite a lack of sleep on the crowded plane, and severe cases of jet lag, we went straight to the garden to get a status report.  Everything looked great.  In our absence, the beans, squash, melons and cucumbers sprouted, along with our replacement crop of greens.  All the tomatoes and

cherries

peppers were thriving.  Some of the early tomatoes are really growing.  I will have to stake them soon.

Our first big surprise was discovering……..cherries!  We planted bush type cherries when we first bought this house back in 2008.  They were tiny twigs and I took a lot of grief from Brittan over being so cheap and not spending the coin for larger plants.  She was right, of course, but that’s a whole nother story……….

Anyway, this year the cherry blossoms were beautiful.  Sure, our bushes are not as large or showy as the big ornamentals that line the streets here, but the flowers are just a pretty and the smell is just as nice.  Now we have something all those people with the big ornamental cherry trees don’t have.  We have fruit!  I was as giddy as a school kid.  There aren’t many cherries.  This is, after all, the first year for fruit.  But they are there and I am so

strawberry

proud.

Finding cherries would have made the day perfect in itself, but Brittan shouted, “We have a strawberry!”  Sure enough, the blossoms are starting to produce.  Yabba dabba do!

And the hits just keep on coming.  I found plumbs on our fruit cocktail tree and figs on our brand new fig tree.  I was particularly surprised by the figs, because the tree doesn’t even have many leaves yet.  There are only three fruit, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a virtual bounty.

oranges

The biggest surprise of all, however, is in our sunroom, where we are experimenting with tropicals.  We have a banana tree, a tangerine, a lemon and a very shaky navel orange.  The orange tree suffered badly from leaf drop after we brought it home from the nursery.  Only one branch lived.  We have seriously

fig

discussed taking it back and asking for a replacement.  Suddenly, all discussion has ceased, because what to my wondering eyes should appear……….. Yep, you guessed it.  Our one living branch has become two and there are tiny oranges on them.  About a half a dozen, to be precise.  I am delighted.

Some day, our little orchard will produce an incredible harvest.  But these first fruits will always be the most special.  All the work, time and effort really are worth it.  The burb is blooming.  You should try this at your place.

plumbs

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A Short Vacation

It has been a hive of activity around here the last few days, leaving very little time to update.  We have been mixing planting mix, planting, watering, mowing and I don’t know what all, trying to get ready for our mini vacation.  B and I are headed to Maui.  That’s right, the burb is going tropical.  We’ll be gone until Monday, 19th.  You can look for a report when we get back.  For now………….. ALOHA!

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