Monday, December 9, 2013

The past month or so, Part One - Vacation, Milking Shed, Norway, Pregnant Cows, Kitchen Painting, and NEW Rabbits!

There is so much to tell. I’ll give you a two or three part recap on what we’ve been up to:

We had the best vacation ever in November. I kept telling Joel the whole time that it was the best vacation we had had yet. It was a time of getting a lot done around here, but that is just how we wanted it. We did everything together and it was wonderful! I thanked Joel endlessly because I just loved being together and apparently really needed it. 

My Dad helped us get a shed that we found on Craigslist. It was free, but was also pretty far away. It was in really good shape and will be big enough to milk a mini cow in.

They cut off one of the eves to make it road worthy, and because we plan to make a larger one anyway.
This is before they finished the "winter pasture". I'll show you some after pictures in the next post.
More work was done clearing some trees, and building a fence for the winter pasture. So now I have a “Milking Parlor”, that awesome heater that Joel picked up (remember that $7 find?), and a surge milker just in case I need it or want it. I know I can hand milk because I’ve done it a few times, but I wanted the option of an electric milker and found one on craigslist – so we sold a few things and used that to purchase the milker. Just lovely.

We also started painting our kitchen cabinets. We only have the doors left to paint, and we purchased enough new door handles from a thrift shop for around $12. Our cabinets were laminate and I had done a bit of reading on how to paint them. We chose Olympic paint from Lowes that was semi enamel and was primer and paint in one. Joel sanded everything down with his orbital sander, we wiped the dust off, and just painted. It took 5 coats on the bookshelf, but everything else took about 3.

It's starting to get white!

Everything is white - just need the doors back! It's bad lighting. We'll take a better one when it's done.
This also has the off while range hood. And my feet. Because I was lounging with my awesome husband.
I LOVE the white cabinets and am so thankful. It looks a lot brighter now. I had planned this project a year ago. We will be doing wood counter tops sometime after the holidays. They will be a lot cheaper than getting anything else we’ve seen and we had an apartment that did this and it was beautiful. We also found a free white, range hood to replace our off white one (all the other appliances have changed over the years and are now white instead of off white, the range hood was the last to change). At the same time, we got a free single bay sink because I prefer that and we want to get the right sink before we cut a whole in new counter top!

Disclaimer: My husband laughed because I didn't even notice that I talk quite a lot about animals.... well, now it is more awkward... you know, doing the deed. It's even more of a fact of life on a homestead where you expect and need everything to reproduce - so I'm just letting you know: it's the way it is. Back to the post.

The animals are doing great. We sent Norway over to our friends’ house to visit her cows. They tried to artificially inseminate one of their cows twice now and it has failed – so we offered our bull. We know he works since Buttercup was officially declared pregnant by a vet over vacation! WooHOO! I've been praying she was. You pray for stuff like this when it is part of you livelihood. She is most likely due in March based on the calf’s development.

Thanks for making a baby, Buttercup!
Buttercup is doing great on the lead rope. She behaves well for the most part, but still gets spooked by visitors if I have her out for a walk.

On the last day of Joel’s vacation, we picked up two French Angora bunnies we adopted. They are sweethearts. And both male! I exclaim that because they get along so well and are not aggressive. The previous owner fostered Theodore, the white one. He preferred company and seemed to be uninterested in mating so was kept with a French angora doe. Well, turns out he was interested in mating, but wasn’t ever caught in the act, so that is how his son Pumpkin unexpectedly came into the world. Since Theodore still preferred company, their previous owner kept Pumpkin with his dad and they get along great.

This, is Theodore.

Checking out his visitor.


Beautiful angora fiber from Theodore's first combing.

Melissa visited and held pumpkin a little. He needs some more work.

French Angora are the best fiber breed for us. I wanted some fiber to work with or sell. They have good guard hairs so they require less maintenance compared to the English Angoras, they don’t require shaving like the German Angoras, and they are a good dual purpose bread if we get another Angora doe or meat breed doe for breeding.

I'm not thrilled with the idea of the sweet extra furry baby bunnies instead of the meat rabbit babies... All baby rabbits are cute, but spending so much time brushing the Angora parents will make it more difficult. We'll see how it goes. The worst that could happen is we get a meat breed couple and just keep the French Angoras for the fiber.

Rabbit meat will be one of the quickest meats to raise on our homestead. I've heard that they turn out to be cheaper than chickens (youtube of Joel Salatin and Dr. Mercola - start at 2:13 for rabbits) because while chickens are omnivores and require a great deal of protein from grain or bugs, a rabbit is an herbivore and can easily be raised on grass in the summer (with some free choice oats, vegetables or weeds, but not as picky as chickens). Plus, everyone knows that Rabbits multiply like wildfire (we do plan to control this by keeping the males and females separate) and they’ll be a lot easier than hatching eggs.

We won’t be abandoning chickens and we’ll still be expecting a few broody chickens to be good mothers and give us a few meat chickens next year. I think rabbits will be harder to slaughter (emotionally) than the chickens, so I’m not rushing into that part. I haven’t seen many pure French Angora in the area either. So this was an interesting find.

I think I’ll break here. Next up: Buckeye Chickens, Finishing our winter pasture, Norway’s return, First cheese wheel...

Here are two of my pinterest boards that include Rabbit info:
The Homesteading Continues
French Angora Rabbits and Spinning

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