We are having a wet summer. It means that our garden is growing very quickly. We are already into harvesting peas, spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard and radishes. Each day we are eating directly from our garden and each day I am able to preserve some for the winter. I am already a fan of the grocery bill reduction. I am a fan of the less amount of trips we have to take to the grocery store because “there is nothing to eat in the house.” We are looking forward to more peas though. Perhaps in a few weeks I will be singing a different tune when I am having to shell the peas for the winter. I am thrilled by the amount of food we have been able to harvest with such little effort on our part. I thank each and every one of our rabbits for making this organic farm a possibility.
On the very last day of school my “farm boy” son was taken to the skatepark. We had a skateboard. They had been to the skatepark before. They were a lot younger then and since we moved to the county, there are many more exciting things to do. Like ride his four wheel bike and bicycle.
Pre-teen fearlessness was not his friend as he stood on the top of the skate ramp. The skate board slipped out from under his feet and down he went. Unfortunately my son now has to spend the summer on crutches. I have lost my farmhand for the summer. It pains me to have my young son in such pain and agony as he gets used to his new reality for the summer. We have found that the animals who have comforted us so much over the years are still providing the comfort where desired. The first night home we allowed the dogs to come up and sleep in the living room. They obligingly lay at his side to keep him company. We are grateful to every single one of our animals. More so as each day passes.
The Pokey puppy was my absolute favourite book when I was a child. I wanted a speckled puppy my whole entire life. While we were raising the six children there was not a whole lot of room for dogs. In 2008 I suffered a tremendous loss of my brother through suicide. I ached so completely I could not ever imagine how I would be able to continue. On the day after his funeral a friend asked me to take Brandy as she was working full time and had no time for her. I looked at the beautiful dog. Placed her at my feet in the car and came home with her. I honestly was looking for a distraction. I knew she was high energy. I got more distraction than I could have ever imagined. Two weeks after we got home she gave birth to 11 pups. I needed her in my life. I needed her to help me find a little relief in the tremendous sadness I was feeling. I found homes for all the puppies by placing them on our front porch. People would hear of the porch puppies and come and ask if they could have one.
We had Brandy exclusively for the next year. Without my conscious knowledge, I yearned for a companion for Brandy. Around the anniversary of my brothers death. Off to the pound we went and Libby we seen. Crouched into the corner of her pen. She had lived the first two years of her life inside a cage. It was hard to leave her there as they had to spay her before we could take her home. She was a challenge though. The exact distraction I was looking for. I did the same the next year and then the year after that. Sadie and Bently were my last two distractions. I finally caught on what I had been doing. I was trying so hard to fill the very void that was left in my heart. I now have four of the Pokey puppies. My daughter tells me that I need one more to finish the book. Maybe someday but for now I have all the pokey puppies I can handle.
My husband is a young man of 46. He has had grey hair the entire time I have known him. He recently decided to let it grow and grow and grow. A sharp contrast to the clean shaved face and head he sported last year. My husband loves his animals. There are some who try to bond with us and there are some we try to bond with regardless of their protests. We have a flemmish giant nest at the moment. They color is Chinchillia grey. We have been trying to get this color dominant on our farm as it was the original color of our first buck. The other day he was playing with the bunny as we were trying to get a picture of it and he placed it beside his head. He said, “I think he likes me, he’s got the same color hair” We laughed and enjoyed the moment of joy that the bunnies bring us. There are more and more moments of just joy in our lives.
It all seems like a good idea. The farm to provide us with meat and veggies.. We put in our gardens, we started our seeds, we now have rabbits and turkeys and ducks and chickens. Our farm has turned into a full time job, rather quickly. All of a sudden we realize how on earth are we going to have the time to do everything and pay the bills. So our farm had to multi task as our rest and play in our work, rest, play, repeat..family words to live by.
We no longer have a whole lot of time for Facebook, or cleaning our house, or go to bed by 9:00, or watching Netflix. However, we are realizing that as long as we all pitch in, everything seems to get done. Our farm work double tasks as our relaxing time as well. Playing with the turkeys and rabbits is entertaining and fun. We had to picnic on the front deck the other day because the table was covered in transplants. We had the worse rainstorm I have ever witnessed an hour later and I had to rescue my plants. Our kids were forced to go outside to round up the ducks and the turkeys. Their stories were so much more memorable than the kids from school who talked about watching the storm out the windows.
Last night as I was walking across our backyard I seen a stray baby bunny about the size of an egg. It was close to my sons four wheeler which has a tarp draped over it. I bent down and wondered how on earth this hairless, egg size baby bunny got ther. It seemed looked after, it was plump and robust. I got my husband to move the straggler to a nest of like size baby bunnies. I was still wondering how this bunny got to this place.
A few weeks ago we had a pen of rabbits break free. We had retrieved most but some of them are still running free. I checked under the tarp and found a stray nest. Actually two stray nests. The mamas were not to be found so we put the cover back down and left them alone. Entertainment does not cost us a penny. Although my son will not be able to use his four wheeler for awhile.
I look forward to the day of our u-pick vegetable garden dream. When we can farm ALL day and pay our bills THAT way.. I love love love this lifestyle. Work, rest, play, repeat..
Farming rabbits has been a process. I see all of our effort when I look out into our yardin in the early evening and see all the rabbits emerge from their shelters. I look at them run and play and often we cannot help ourselves and we go out to the pens and play with them. Yesterday evening I processed six of our rabbits. They had gone far beyond their prime. I have been after my husband to process them but he always found something else to do. I still had to get him to do the culling but I surprised myself at how easily I was able to process them. They were the same rabbits that I have held and played with many times. I was thinking while I was processing them that it was our duty now to honour them by eating them. We have them a very good life while they were on earth. We fed, water, gave them affection, room to play and greens to eat. I was able to use most of the meat somehow. Since they were summer hides I was not able to save all of the hides but I was able to harvest a few. I was also able to string up the feet and ears to dehydrate for organic treats for my dogs. I divided all the meat into bags. Legs and backs. When i was finished and the meat had all been quartered I was extremely impressed with my efforts. The meat was succulent white meat. The rib cages I saved for RAW food for my pets. I was able to put about 40lbs of meat in the freezer for next winter. If I was too purchase organic rabbit at the grocer and pet store, this would have cost me about $400. I know I will have to slow cook or pressure cook these ones as they were older rabbits but will cook up nicely if done correctly.
My son is one of those who partakes in the online game. He would make excuses to get out of chores so he could sneak in to check his clan. We soon caught onto this and I have made it my mission to limit his time in the video world. I have to admit that I can sometimes spend hours poking around so I try to at least do something productive while I am online. I used to play the games where you build virtual gardens and then I thought to myself what a real garden I could have if I spent the same amount of time looking after real animals and real vegetables.
Our micro farm is the result. Every day we get up and work on our farm. Every day we produce vegetables and meat. It really is a great concept. Everyday my children are forced to be outside to help. I have very healthy, happy kids and by next winter I will have a freezer fully of rabbits, turkeys, ducks and vegetables. This is so much more productive than farming online.
We colony raise our rabbits. We started with two, a male and a female, Big Mama and Norman. When we first brought them home we placed them into an extra large dog kennel. I thought it was a nice size. Then I felt guilty they were in a small space and got my husband to build some bigger cages. This year we build some REALLY big pens and that is where they are living. Our colony has grown and we basically can have a unlimited supply of rabbits now.
Some of the things we have learned is that the rabbits do need space. They need to feel secure in their environment. We try to leave them alone as much as possible but we do intervene once in awhile. If a baby wanders away from the nest we will put it back. We came up with a fabulous idea of using the rubber tub and building them a burrow. We needed the babies to stay in the nest until it was time for them to emerge. We bought these tubs on sale for $5 and the other tubs we scavenged from recycling behind a restaurant. The white part is a mayonnaise bucket. The rabbits feel secure and the babies stay in the nest.
Life gets really busy in the Spring. We are managing to expand our rabbit farm and our vegetable gardens. Each day we get up and make a mental note of what we would like to accomplish each day. We are finding that little by little our dream of having a sustainable farm on 1 acre may actually be obtainable. The YARDIN is what my husband has been calling what we do. Converting a lawn into a garden. It is a lot of work but yesterday alone, I got cauliflower, broccoli, and two types of peas into the ground. So far we have been able to celebrate the small victories, getting a huge colony pen for our rabbits was a big hurdle for us to accomplish.
We are sustainable farmers. We raise chickens, rabbits and vegetables. Our little farm compliments our vegetable gardens. We love our animals and give them the best life we can manage and they in return give us manure and eat our bugs. I grew up on a farm, we raised pigs and chickens when I was young. I always wanted to leave my little town and live in the city. I did do that for about 15 years. My declining health made me return to growing my own vegetables and my husband convinced me to raise rabbits and chickens. We live only on 1 acre and I am going to share with you, how we do it. It is possible for everyone to easily grow gardens and harvest meat and eggs.