Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Trip To The Farm

Well, we had another opportunity to go to the farm today, so this time we were smart and took some pictures! For starters, here's the house. You can see the windmill in the back, on the right. Just off to the right of the house, down a gentle slope, is the pond. More on that in a minute.

Here's the back of the house:

You can also see a door off the left side and a set of steps. This is a side door off the laundry room. Just to the right of that door, near the ground, is a crawlspace. It was full of puppies when I took these pictures, and they were under there barking their little heads off at me. Trying to tell me that it's their house, I suppose! We weren't able to go inside the house this time. The owner wasn't available to meet us and the house was locked, so no interior shots from this visit.

Now then, on to the rest! Here we have the two barns. The small one with the open front will be mine and used for small livestock, gardening supplies, etc. The larger one will be Jerry's and will be primarily a garage/workshop.

And finally, the pond!

It's quite low now, but you can see how much higher it can get! Other parts of the property are not shown in these pictures. To the right of the pond, the land stretches some distance down a slope into a more heavily treed area. Also, on the back side of the house, there's a very large, flat, open area - presumably pasture. I didn't take any pictures of those areas today because (a) the camera battery was going, (b) we weren't in proper footwear so we opted not to walk those areas and (c) it's winter, so everything is sort of scrubby and sad-looking right now anyway. I can only imagine what this place looks like in mid-April, when everything is green and wildflowers are blooming!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alternative Wedding Cupcake Stand

Sometimes the only way to get exactly what you want is to make it yourself. We've decided to serve cupcakes at our wedding instead of a traditional wedding cake, and so it came to my attention that we'd need something to serve them on. You can of course buy a cupcake "tree", but I just felt they looked to "wedding-ey". Taking into consideration the laid back nature of the event and our undeniable hipness, I decided that the only acceptable thing to serve the cupcakes on would be a stand made from old vinyl records. DIY time!

It's a good thing that I'm somewhat crafty and my man is very handy - this project proved to be a piece of cake for us (pun intended). Hopefully some better pictures of it (with cupcakes) will be taken at the party, but for now I give you the mothership of frosted confections, the turntable of tantalizing treats, the tower of flour...okay, you get the idea.

Yes, the disco ball spins. Our only regret is that we can't make the whole apparatus turn continuously. We didn't really have time to make that happen, and we can't set it on an actual record turntable because the holes in the records will be threaded through. Oh well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Rabbitat

Here it is - The Rabbitat. Fairly self-explanatory, really. The bunnies will actually be separated, but the empty cages were freshly washed so we gave them a full 24 hours to dry first.

Rabbits, Radishes and Recalls

Well, after a busy weekend around the house, The Rabbitat is in place and the bunnies installed in their new home! There are still a few things to do to it, such as roll up panels for the front, a coat of varnish and the like, but it's totally habitable now (and better than the shed). Look for a picture later this evening!

In other news, we've noticed quite a few tiny sprouts coming up in our garden. This was a bit of a surprise - I thought they might take longer to come up since it's been fairly cold here lately. We've seen tiny shoots of radishes and a couple varieties of lettuce. They're so small that I had to get right on top of them to spot them, but they're there! With luck, we'll be eating backyard salad before we know it. The cabbage starts I planted last weekend are looking good too. I don't know if there will be time this weekend, but I'd like to start some seeds in the greenhouse now that it is in its permanent location. I'm thinking tomatoes and peppers to give us a jumpstart on summer.

Lastly, now that my happy news is covered, it's time for my rant. Having read quite a bit over the last couple of weeks about the massive beef recall that stemmed from the secret Humane Society video, I'm happier than ever about getting all our meat from a local pastured meat ranch. So happy, in fact, that I plan to write them today to let them know how grateful I am that they provide me with safe, delicious, humanely raised beef at such a reasonable price. I've written about them in previous posts, but I'd like to reiterate a few points here. YES, it is more expensive than supermarket meat, but only slightly. If I can't afford as much meat as before, my solution is to eat less meat. YES, it is more of a hassle than supermarket meat, but only slightly. I have to budget more and plan ahead because they require a minimum order, but knowing that we're eating cows that eat grass (as ruminants should) means more to me than any minor convenience. The meat on my table came from animals that were raised as they should be - with fresh air, natural diets, plenty of room to move around. The meat on my table will not make us sick, assuming I employ safe handling and cooking practices. The meat on my table did not come from a sick, used up dairy cow that could no longer walk.

What makes me most angry about this latest recall news is that it won't have a significant effect on people's buying habits. Sure, folks might back off the beef for a week or two, but as soon as the publicity dies down, they'll be right back to their commercial feedlot steaks and burgers. It kills me that even faced with such overwhelming evidence, most people simply can't be bothered to make a change. It's too expensive, or too much of a hassle, they say. Now, I love food, but I'm no food snob. I don't earn a lot. I absolutely understand that pastured meat is either not available or not affordable for many people. I don't expect families on a limited budget to suddenly start shelling out more of their precious dollars for pastured meat. What do I expect? That people who have the means should start doing it. I don't mean to come off sounding preachy here, but I think everyone must ask themselves just how much their health is worth, and how much risk and unconscionable activity they're willing to tolerate in exchange for convenience and a cheap price. I'm not nor will I ever be a vegetarian, but I'd rather avoid a food altogether than settle for a tainted, falsified and potentially unsafe version of it.

Read more about the recall and the video that started it here and here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And We're Back!

So it seems that we've turned a corner. Since their trip to the vet, the dogs are feeling much better. They're still quite itchy and it will take time for their skin to heal, but they're much perkier, happier dogs now. They're getting their appetites back and the puppy is playing again. Happy day!

In other news, my prescription issue is fixed, we have our marriage license, and I found a killer dress to wear to the wedding party! It's funny how problems that seem to have no end can suddenly just...end.

The family is happy again, the sun is shining, and in the words of Early Cuyler...

"Asses was kicked, names was taken, love was made."


Look what they did to my poor boy. He's got three or four bald patches on his behind. He had some bad lesions under there from the mange, and his fur is so thick that the only way to treat them was to shave him. Oh the embarrassment!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tensions Are Running High...

We're stretched a bit thin here these days. Our wedding is now two weeks out, and although it's a fairly simple and modest affair, I'm now very busy working out the details.

I can't seem to get my prescription filled, because my insurance company is being a bunch of bitches. If I can't get a resolution today, I'm going to have to pay full price for it. Ouch.

Both of us and all the dogs have been itching furiously for three or four weeks now. We've been back and forth to the vet numerous times and things just seem to be getting worse. I took all of them back this morning in total desperation. Joy of joys - we have MANGE! The dogs are still there, being bathed and dipped, poor things. On the upside, now that we know what the problem is, there's at least an end in sight. However, weeks of non-stop itching does make me VERY cranky.

Add to this the usual flare-ups of family drama that always accompany weddings, and you have a household on the brink of a breakdown! We're managing, though, and we know that all of this will be over soon and we can go back to our blissful and ordinarily peaceful existence. Hanging in there...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Drum Roll, Please...

And here they are...the bunnies! They are in their temporary quarters here. Construction of The Rabbitat is about to commence. They've had no trouble adjusting to their new home, and they don't seem to mind the barky-mouthed dogs too much.

The Greenhouse

Here's a quick shot of the new greenhouse. It has two zippers up the front so you can go in and out, or roll that panel up to keep it open for awhile. It also has two wire shelves on the right.

Bunnies and Greenhouses and Gardens, Oh My!

I'm not very good at keeping up with this blog. It seems like I'm so busy actually doing things that I can't find time to write about them. We've made some significant strides in our journey toward self sufficiency in recent weeks. Our new composter arrived and was promptly put in place. I assembled our tiny greenhouse and was proud of myself for having set it up, only to discover the following morning that I had placed it such that it completely shades the garden! Good thing it's small and portable! I'm scouting new locations for it today.

Planting will begin in earnest soon. I have some cooler weather vegetables that I plan to sow directly into the garden in coming weeks. Some of the warm weather crops will get a head start in the greenhouse. It does stay remarkably warm inside it, so I think it will work out well!

After lots of research, discussion and putting out feelers, we brought home our first breeding trio of rabbits - New Zealand Whites, one buck and two does. That was after a crash course in rabbit sexing, which we realized on the spot that we had no idea how to do (duh!). The buck is 4 weeks old and the does are three weeks, so they'll have lots of time to settle in before they're old enough to be bred. If all goes well, we hope to have our first litter of baby rabbits in late summer or early fall. Our intention is to raise them for meat, both for our own consumption and to sell, but we could also sell them as pets, sell the babies as reptile food and sell all the manure that we don't use on our own garden, so it seems like it will provide us with lots of options. No, they will not have names!

In other news, we may have a line on a nice piece of property in the country with a house, a pond and two barns. It will most likely be a lease-to-own situation if it works out, and would allow us to greatly expand our activities. We could install wind turbines, plant a bigger garden and raise chickens! Even goats! I'm quite excited about this, but it's far from a done deal, so let's all keep our fingers crossed!