It is funny that I started my blog at the very moment that I
decided to increase the animals on the farm. Little did I know how much time they would occupy. It is not the time that it takes to care for them..but the time that I enjoy them. The small moments like the one captured by the pumpkins. Such beautiful happy ducks. I find that I cannot wait to finish supper so that I can rush out and watch them take their bath in the pool before they look to me to put them back in the pen for the night. How smart they were when the night that the coyotes were howling that they broke into my tomatoe patch to hide. I am going to miss the ducks and the turkeys. There time on this earth was well spent. They got to eat, relax, play and rest.
They like many of our animals are meant to be raised for food. We had to really work through the process. We had to come to terms with the reality that they all would face at the end of the summer. We made their time here though as happy and comfortable as we could. We had a big butcher day last Sunday. I am not really sure why we chose Sunday..but we did. Each Sunday marked off in our calendar as a day we process our meat. I am not sure why it has made the process easier but it has. We have a plan and we are sticking with it. Following through on the decisions to raise our own food, process our own food and enjoy the bounty of of journey.
I really wish I had been able to capture more moments on film and video. This journey that we are on is enlightening. One we never consciously chose when we picked our home out. (Otherwise I am sure a barn would have been on the list of must haves.) Our journey with the ducks is coming to an end..next up…
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.
The ducks have officially moved outside. They live with the little rabbits now and are loving the companionship and fresh greens that they are getting daily. We have a little splash pad in the pen so they can be ducks.
We are Christmas tree farmers so we used one of our stands that display the Christmas trees on our lot as a roost for the turkeys. They immediately caught on what to do. This picture was taken on the second night that they stayed outside. I wish I would have gotten a picture on the first night as they were all in a row and facing the same way. The turkeys are really growing on me. Their pen is located right beside my driveway and they run the length of the driveway as we are driving out. It really is funny to watch.
We are eating quite a bit from our garden and farm right now. Last night I calculated and found that our entire meal may have cost us $2.00. I did purchase a $0.77 cucumber as they are not in season right now and the rest went towards the cost of the ingredients. My kids are complaining less about eating a salad.
Rhubarb crisp..devilled eggs and rabbit chef salad.
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..
Everything in the pot, I produced on our acre, except the potatoes. I told the kids I am not able to do the potatoes because we do not have enough garden space yet. My daughter asked if if did the spices and I was able to say yes, even the herbs in the sauce.
This is rabbit. It is a white meat except the front legs. I find the front legs remind me more of dark meat. Farmed rabbits taste like organic chicken. At least that is what I think.
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.
We have very hard soil. It is clay, mixed with a bit of loam. It is dreadful to work with. This was one of the first reasons we decided to start farming rabbits. We needed their manure to help our soil. I have boughten many garden tools over the years. Most are made of cheap material that often end up in the scrap metal pile. I find that the best tools are often the older tools. Tools that were built to be used and to last a lifetime. We have purchased many at yard sales. Sometimes we need to put a new handle on it but it is definitely worth the hassle. Often we end up with a gardening treasure.
My other secret weapon is my trowel. It is not really a trowel, it is an entrenching tool. It was purchased from an army surplus store. It’s original purpose was to dig trenches. I think mine is from 1968. The sides can be sharpened to make digging even easier. It is just the right height for using as a spade. I don’t think I would have been able to get any plants in the ground had it not been for this handy tool. It is a little bigger than a real trowel so I can find it easier when I set it down.
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.
We sold some rabbits yesterday. It was a good day because we have been keeping them for a year and a half and have grown to a size, where we can actually sell some. I must say that our focus has definitely changed over the years. I just sent an email to our local horticultural society marketing our rabbits as an endless supply of organic manure and mulch. My husband asked me why I done that and I told him that we have discovered over the last year and a half that the rabbits are way more valuable to us as garden producers. I joked with a friend the other day that we are planning to make our entire front yard into a vegetable garden. She looked at my front yard and said “good luck” . Then I showed her my tomatoe patch. It was a Spring project. It was our first patch into our lawn. We built a pen of 400 sq.ft. And put our baby bunnies inside. They within two weeks had eaten the grass down to the roots. Then we threw in some pine shavings. They ran and played and worked them into the ground. Then we threw in a few more. They had lots of fun with the shavings and continue to work the into the ground. After one month we were able to move them out of the spot and our tomatoes into the spot. I am a bit of a lazy gardener. I liked that I just had to dig a hole and put the tomatoe plant into place. I did not have to mulch it any further and I will not have to weed the garden either.