Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From Bunny To Dinner Table

I'll start out showing the cute adorable bunny pictures.

I couldn't just pick one of those pictures. They are just so adorable!

The little doe above is a keeper I named Bliss. I love her color, this really wasn't a good picture of her, but its all I have. You can see both a orangey color and a blue color on her. Both colors are layered on each hair, It depends on how the light is hitting her on which color you see. She reminds me of a two tone painted car.

Today I finally butchered a rabbit for the first time. I couldn't be happier. It went really well. I used a pellet gun, and the rabbit had an instant death. I was so relieved. Then I had the project of skinning, gutting, washing, and cutting up. It took me quite a long time, but I know I will get faster, and better with practice.  So here is my finished product.

I have been selling as many of the babies as possible to pay for their feed and he was one that didn't sell. I kept putting off butchering him, but I knew I needed to get it done and over with. The weather has turned cooler, so it was just perfect. That was an issue I was worried about, butchering with lots of flies around. He was an adult and the smallest of all the males, so I really didn't think that I would get hardly any meat from him. I was surprised at how much meat he produced. In fact I cut a huge amount of fat off of him. I guess I fed him a tad to much. I have read that rabbit fat is kinda bitter, so I gave it to the cat and dog that were hanging around.
Now I have about 5 more young bucks to do. Anyone want to help?  ; )

I should also mention that in my last post I talked about the comfrey starts I bought, and that none had come up. Well as soon as it started raining (over 3 weeks after planting), they started popping up. So far there are 5 or 6, so that's pretty good. If I had to buy them locally they would have cost $5 a plant. I think it turned out to be a good deal. Since it only takes a tiny piece of root to start a comfrey plant, I decided that I am going to dig up my plant that is in a bad place in my garden and divide up its roots to start a bunch of plants from it come Spring. I think anyways, I still have to look up what is the best time of year to do that. I looked in all our garden books and couldn't find anything. Hopefully I will get a nice big patch of it going. Comfrey is supposed to be a very good high protein bunny feed, and they sure do love it.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Goodbye Summer

More like good riddance. I'm so glad Summer is over (for the most part anyways). I can't stand the heat anymore, it just makes me feel sick. I started out Summer by slicing my hand with a very sharp, dirty pair of hoof shears. It was a bad judgement call when a doeling started kicking her leg. With the little steri-strips the clinic gave me to hold the wound shut, I was kinda useless for a while, as if I used my hand for anything it would pop the strips off. I have been blessed that I hadn't had a wound like that, since a rabbit bite the end of my finger when I was around 3 years old. I did discover that large amounts of Ester-C worked great to keep my hand from hurting.

I wasn't going to have any baby bunnies in the Summer, because of the heat. Then I remembered "Duh, the does have nice cool holes they can kindle in.". So three litters it was. One doe kindled as expected in her hole, doe # 2 decided to use her house (because she was never able to dig a tunnel off of it, because the dirt is too hard in her pen.), and that resulted in a couple lost kits. One kit got lost when it blindly crawled off on a hot day. I think an animal got it. I had to put a second one down that got abscesses. So that left 4 kits in the second litter which were doing great. Then when they were about 3 weeks old my mom stopped putting food in the chickens feeders in the back of our orchard, because of rats. The chickens of course had feeders that she was feeding them with up at the front. Well this I guess caused all the rats to come up to the backyard and they ate the face off of one of the kits, and attacked a second that survived from litter # 2. I am so disgusted with rats and the things I have seen them do to animals over the years. I don't know how anyone can keep them for pets! They will eat your bunnies face off!

There was also litter # 3 by a doe I named Gypsy. I picked that name for her, because she was the one that ran loose at her previous owners place, and would return to feed her children at night. She had a nice hole and at kindling time spread a bunch of hair around her pen. I checked her hole, no babies. She filled in the entrance, they do that, but she was digging a tunnel in the other direction. She had milk, but no babies to be found. So after 2 weeks I had assumed she had a false pregnancy. I put her in with the buck for another go around. I thought it was strange that her milk hadn't dried up. I think it was only a few days later that baby bunnies appeared in her pen! 

Oh no! They were darling, but their mother was just re-bred, so I made sure to bump up her nutrition. I took the kits away a week before she was due and she's done just fine. She has some of the prettiest babies: castor, blue, blue otter, lilac, lilac otter, and lynx.

The garden didn't get planted till REALLY late. I can't remember if it was mid or the end of June when my mom planted it. We moved the garden area up to what was the main chicken area. As soon as the plants got past the shock of transplant they took off. Thanks to all that chicken manure. But unfortunately she had to replant many plants and seeds. The rats and ground squirrels think she planted everything for them. They ate off entire rows of beans as they emerged, and ate all the cabbage plants I started. She had to plant the beans 3 times. I guess third times the charm. We sure enjoyed the Provider beans while they lasted. My dad and I never tire of them. Just cook them with a little bacon and oh they are so good. That used up all our bean seed planting 3 times in one year. I had gotten Boyd Craven JR.'s books Backyard Meat Rabbits, and Beyond The Pellet: Feeding Rabbits Naturally for my birthday. He wrote about a heirloom seed company called Everwilde that sells none GMO seed, and have really good pricing. So I checked them out. They carried Provider seeds. Yay! And extremely cheap. I was concerned about the possibility of them selling seeds with chemical treatments on them, like I have received from some other places in the past. So I contacted them to ask. They responded that they only carried a few different types of seeds that come with the treatment on them, with a list of which seeds it was. Luckily it wasn't anything I wanted to order. So I placed my order and when my package arrived I couldn't have been happier. All their seeds are sealed in gold colored plastic packages that can be resealed with a ziplock type closure. I read that someone after getting dirty planting, put their pants in the wash forgetting they had put a packet of seeds in their pocket, and when they pulled them out of the washer the seeds were unharmed. I think that's a pretty good seed pack. Especially when its at no extra cost. Plus the seeds are supposed to last a lot longer in these packets vs. being stored in paper packets. We shall see.

I already have some comfrey growing in my garden, but it doesn't do a whole lot, because of where its planted. I want to grow a plot of it, so I can feed it to the rabbits. I have seen an advertisement running for years for comfrey root cuttings, so I used some of the money from bunny sales to place an order. I actually didn't even know if it was the time of the year to start their roots, and for once in my life I didn't feel like looking it up. I figured it wasn't the right time, I wouldn't be receiving them for a while. Not even two weeks after mailing in the order my little bundle of root snippets arrived. I followed the instructions they came with, and planted them in 4" pots, because I wanted to be able to keep a close eye on them, till they become a good size plant to put in the ground. The instructions said that they will start to emerge in about 2 weeks. Its been 3 1/2 weeks and I haven't seen anything yet. I'm not giving up. If they don't do anything I'll order some from someone off e-bay. There are a lot on there and they are better deals. 

The first day of June my mom and I had to drag all our stinky bucks home from our neighbors pasture. They had begun to come into rut and the does were coming into heat, including 2 month old doelings. What is wrong with these animals? Don't they know what time of year it is?! Their breeding cycle obviously doesn't have anything to do with day length. Just like they still don't know how pigeons know how to fly home. So over the past week our goats have been delivering kids. It started with a 7 month old doeling turning up with her own little doeling she delivered all by herself. Then my moms 8 month old doeling delivered a great big white buckling again unassisted. A 7 month old doeling had a set of twin girls. She had them after dark, so I helped dry them. They were fine the next morning when I checked them, but something happened later in the day. The mother took one a long way out into the field and it was laying their injured. I brought her home but she died. We think she got stepped on, and was bleeding internally. The mother wouldn't stay with the other kid. She was HUNGRY after getting 2 kids out of her, and just not mature enough. We brought the surviving kid home. She could have cared less. That changed the next morning when she woke up with a swollen udder. We brought her home,set her up in a dog pen, and gave her daughter back which she gladly accepted. Our mature doe Daisy had great big white twins, again unassisted. 1 doeling with LaMancha ears, and a buckling with big floppy ears and a big Boer head. That completed our out of season - kidding season. Or so I thought..... Since writing that earlier I went to check our goats for the evening to discover our doe Violet in labor! We didn't even know she was pregnant. She had a great big chocolate colored doeling. So who knows if the goats are done kidding, and to think this is going to start all over in March.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meat On Wings (Raising Meat Part 2)

It Doesn't matter where you buy poultry (waterfowl in the case of ducks) meat or if its from an organically fed source, free range, or factory farmed. All of the chickens, turkeys, and ducks raised and sold for meat are of what is called hybrids. These are animals that grow extremely fast, so fast that you have to limit them on how much they are allowed to eat or they will die of what they call "flip". Flip is when the animal has a heart attack and flips over on its back and dies. If these animals are not butchered at a young age, they will continue to grow till they can barely walk, and then they usually die of a heart attack in the end. Their heart just cannot keep up with their growth, just like a person with gigantism

The fact of that these animals grow so fast is what really concerned me. The hatcheries all state that they grow fast do to being of a special crossing of different breeds that when combined grow very fast. Well I can tell you that my mom has raised heritage breed chickens for MANY years, and has produced an awful lot of crosses. Now I have observed that the cross bred animals are usually a lot healthier and hardier than the pure bred birds, but what she has never had pop up is a fast growing or giant bird

I just don't believe it. I am a digger, I will dig for information if I don't believe what I am being told, and that's one reason that I love the world wide web. You wouldn't think that you could find such information online, but its like that saying that "The easiest place to hide something is in plan sight". I started out finding this blog post/ article on Freedom Rangers  The guy that wrote the post goes on to say that the parent stock comes from Hubbard Hatchery, so I looked them up. Their "About Us" page sounds rather scary to me. What is this Multi-species thing about?! Two chickens from two different breeds are still the same species.  but I wanted to find something even more blatant. Under their Hubbard History page you will see all the yucky companies they are linked with. It says that in March of 2005 they became part of Group Grimaud. So I clicked over to Group Grimaud. They are a "We are the solution to world hunger" company. They have a little Q&A book on their website here is pages 22 and 23 it says that they "offer a wide range of products to large operators producing animal proteins who are also multi-species". Again what is this multi-species? Am I misunderstanding this?

Do your own research, and  draw your own conclusions. Have you ever heard of Belgian Blue Cattle? They are quite freakish too.  I don't like these companies playing God with the animals. You hear all the time about  things like "Oh they made sheep that glows in the dark from some gene they took out of a jellyfish and inserted into the sheep". Well now I guess they are easier for the coyotes and wolves to see huh. I don't trust any of these companies playing with animals or plants genes and especially not human genes. I think they are trying to ruin what God created.

Now getting back to raising animals, we have raised the Cornish Cross chickens, and we had one of the white broad breasted variety of turkeys in the past. But they are just scary, and sad. My mom decided to get some of the true Cornish chicks. They breed true and take a normal 6 months to grow. Same as any other NORMAL chicken. They are supposed to be a very meaty animal. Unfortunately the ones that she ordered weren't of very good quality, so we are going to have to find a nice big rooster to improve them.

A few months back I was wanting to get some nice big meat ducks. We already had ducks of the laying type, but I wanted a larger variety for meat. I was looking at Metzers to see what they offer for meat ducks. Something that wasn't going to be a freak variety and would breed true. Ducks grow pretty fast anyways. Well only about an hour or two later my dads friend showed up with some ducks that he had asked my mom a while back if she would be willing to take for him. He had a elderly relative that had these ducks on their property and they wanted him to remove them. When my mom had asked him what kind he said "black ducks". So she assumed they were Black Cayuga's. When we went out to see what he brought, he had cages of  black and white pied Muscovy ducks!

I was totally shocked. These are nice big meat ducks, and I hadn't even thought about this variety since most hatcheries don't sell them. It was such a wonderful blessing! And they don't quack! AND they aren't real big on water like the other ducks.

One of the ducks made a nest and hatched out a bunch of ducklings. One day I walked by the orchard and spotted her walking around with 6 ducklings. So cute! We let them be, she was doing a good job, but after a few days there were 5, then 4. So I brought the duck and babies up and put them in a chain link dog pen I had just set up for the rabbits. Perfect timing.

They have been doing great, growing good, and I think the mother feels safe being separated with her babies.

On to the turkeys. My family likes turkey meat. I'm not a big fan. Although I do prefer my turkey on a plate, because I just can't stand them out in the yard. They have to gobble over everything you say, and they poop a really big chicken poop! Don't ever wear sandals around them, they think toes are worms, and they have a thing about wanting to show off to legs if your wearing shorts. Weird creatures. But my parents wanted to get turkeys again. My Mom decided on some White Midgets this time. They breed true, and are a smaller breed. Hopefully they will be an OK fit around here.

Last but not least everything comes to an end, and for all the birds that get eaten around here its the guillotine. My dad made this gizmo for my mom. He didn't like having to chop the birds heads off with the ax. It bothered him, and my mom didn't think she could handle an ax and holding the bird with the other hand, so he made her a handy dandy one of a kind chicken head cutter off'er.
When my dad builds something its usually out of metal and very heavy duty. That holds true for this gadget, and it works wonderfully.

All she has to do is place the birds neck under the blade. Then....
(Notice the block of wood on the bottom. This keeps the blade from being ruined when it is pressed down.)

She presses this watchamacallit that would be hooked to the air compressor hose, and the blade will be pressed down to the board in a split second, and held there till she lets go.

Then after some scalding, plucking, and some smelly gutting we get supper.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hopping Into A New Adventure (Raising Meat Part 1)

Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
Genesis 9:3

Raising meat part 1 of 3

I have been thinking and praying long and hard for quite a while now about getting some meat rabbits. At least a year to be more exact.  It wasn't a matter of could I raise rabbits? I have raised rabbits off and on over the years since I was a child in 4-H. It was the hard fact of killing rabbits- young rabbits, that I didn't know if I could handle.

The more I have learned about store bought meat. The more I know I don't want to eat it anymore. I am absolutely disgusted by the way the animals are housed, fed and handled. I have learned that you can't even necessarily trust organically raised meat. You must ask lots of questions. Just one example. Many years back, after my mom got into raising chickens we were at a store where she was looking at some oregano oil. I asked her what she was interested in the oil for, and she told me about how the local organic chicken farmer was putting it in their chickens water to prevent them from getting sick. I looked at her shocked! From my knowledge in herbs I know that oregano oil has very strong antibiotic properties. So basically because it is an organic product, you can raise your animals on antibiotics their entire lives and still sell them as organic. Some people might say Well whats the big deal?. Antibiotics affect the animals bodies ability to make vitamin B-12. So if the animal cannot make vitamin B-12, its not going to be in their meat that you are consuming. Please correct me on this if I am wrong.

So back to the killing part. After thinking and praying on it long and hard. I do believe that I can. Of course its not something I'm going to enjoy doing, but its just one of those things that is going to have to be done if I want to know where my food is coming from. If you asked me 10 years ago when I started raising goats if I would dis-bud a baby goat? I would have told you never (I used to think it was a horribly cruel thing to do to an animal). Yet this year my mom and I dis-budded our entire batch of horned kids (probably 15 or more), and it didn't bother me anymore, but I had prayed about it for a year after this dis-budding experience a couple years ago. 

So then I had to make the decision of what breed of meat rabbit to raise. I've never liked Californian's, and New Zealand's  are also plain. Flemish are too big, more like feeding a dog. I decided on the Standard Rex. I have always loved Rex rabbits fur. They have a coat that is just like velvet, and they come in all different colors. So you always have a variety to look at, not just a bunch of plain white rabbits. The other thing I learned when reading about meat rabbits is that all the common meat breeds are right around the same size at the same butchering age. So whether your breeders you are feeding are Flemish Giants (that can weigh 20 lbs.) or Rex rabbits (that weigh around 8 lbs.) You will end up with approximately the same size fryer. So the larger breeds cost a lot more to feed and take longer to reach sexual maturity.
The one problem with STANDARD Rex is they are hard to find. Everyone has the mini's. I found an ad for someone selling their Standard Rex rabbits due to moving. I loaded up 3 small animal crates in the car, and my mom and I made the trip. The couple and their children were extremely nice, and they also raised the rabbits for meat and fur, but were moving into a subdivision. I was a little worried that they only raised them for pets, and would ask me what I was wanting to raises them for. So I was relieved when we got there and the husband was saying what good meat they are.

I had planned to get 2 or 3 does depending on what was available, but I got the 3 does picked out when the wife said that for $75 we could take all the rabbits we want and she would give us two new cages to take them home in, since I didn't come prepared for that many animals. Wow! I was blown away. I looked at my Mom and she was like "OK". The woman just wanted us to take them all, as she had been getting a lot of responses to her ad that were scaring her. So she really didn't want to deal with having anyone else come out to their place. So her husband and kids immediately gathered up two cages and got them cleaned up to put in our car and loaded up their two does with each ones babies, and I picked out a gorgeous 13 week old buck, and loaded up the rest of the young does into my carriers. Whatever we left behind the husband was going to be butchering that evening, so we took the does and left them with the rest of the 13 week old bucks. I'm sure they made a lovely meal that night, and the rabbits were out grazing on the lawn, so they had a nice last meal also. Before we left she even gave me the bag of rabbit food, since they weren't going to need it, and also the crates she bought for nest boxes.

She said she picked these storage containers up at Walmart to use for nest boxes, and they worked great and clean out easily too. Unlike conventional nest boxes that you have to replace the soiled wood bottom all the time.

My mom and I left in shock of what a blessing we had just received. We actually didn't even know how many rabbits we had in our car till we got home and my dad counted them all after we unloaded them. 17! Then I took the buck out of the carrier for my dad to pet. His reply "That's the softest rabbit I have ever felt!" With a look of surprise.

I didn't want to keep these rabbits in tiny little cages, so we put some in these big parrot aviaries. I will probably have to make some changes to prevent them from digging out (some rabbits are diggers and some aren't. It just depends on the animal.) I want them to have the nicest housing possible were they can get plenty of exercise. One of the problems with the Rex breeds are that they don't have as thick of fur on their feet as normal rabbits, because their hair is shorter. This can result in sore hocks if the rabbit spends to much time on wire. Another reason why I preferred to put them on the ground. One of the does did have sore hocks when we got her, so I have started putting some herbal salve on her feet, and hopefully she will heal up nicely.

This is the doe with the sore hocks. She has a very sweet temperament, and didn't give me any problems with putting salve on her sore feet. I sure wouldn't want to sit still for someone to mess with my feet if they looked like hers. (I don't want it to sound as though she was miss treated though. The people had obviously recognized the problem, because they had moved her to the ground. I just didn't feel a need to ask them about it, since I saw it and new what it was and that this is an issue with this breed.)

 This is actually my favorite color. Castor.

 Some babies.

 The other litter of babies in a aviary my mom never finished building. Bonus for the rabbits!

 Lets not get into the benefits of rabbit manure to the garden, but there will be a lot of that around here. My brother already has a request in for his garden.

 This is the gorgeous opal (Edit: I have since learned that he is a blue otter) buck I picked out. I will probably find a different buck later on, because this one is related, and I have noticed that the two adult does aren't as big as they should be. This could be due to being bred before they finished growing, at least that's what I'm hoping. So I think I will find a really big buck to breed up there size.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Hello all!
Recently I was asked to do a interview by Shining Stars Magazine. If you have never heard of Shining Stars it is a lovely Christian magazine aimed at unmarried young ladies, but is enjoyed by ladies of all ages.
If interested in taking a peak over at the interview it is posted here

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Yummy Salad Dressing

If your a cilantro lover like me, you will love this dressing.

I have had a great love for creamy cilantro dressing, but it contains 2 things that I can't stomach anymore milk and cheese (well dairy of course). So I decided to do an internet search and find out what all it contains, and then make a tummy friendly version, that would hopefully taste good. I have to say that when I made this dressing I surprised myself.
Here is what I whipped up in our Nutri-Bullet.

Dairy-Free Creamy Cilantro Dressing
1 cup mayo
1 bunch rinsed, minced cilantro (you want it to be wet so it will add a little water)
juice from 1/2 lemon or 1 whole lime
1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each: cayenne, black pepper, and cumin
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup Daiya pepperjack shreds

Blend and enjoy! This will make enough to fill a 16 ounce jar.

*I am not a fan of artificial cheese, but it works well in this recipe. I am thinking that I am going to try making it with canned white beans in place of the cheese, because we really don't have any other reason to buy artificial cheese than to make this dressing. If you find a substitute that works well, please let me know.*


Sunday, April 19, 2015

how to blade shear a sheep

A couple months ago I bought Burgon and Ball sheep shears at the local feed store for a hefty price, and ordered a blade sharpener off of ebay. I had it in my head after reading our sheep book and looking at the drawings of how to hold a sheep for shearing, that my 128 lb. self was actually going to be able to hold a 100 lb. sheep in those positions. HaHa!

Well I got my shears, piece of plywood to shear on, a broom, plastic bags, and a cart to set the wool in. My Mom joined me in this venture to assist me, and we both quickly found out I am NOT strong enough to hold a 100 lb. sheep in any sort of position, but laying it on its side.

My Mom helped hold the sheep down, while I sheared. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get her done, but I didn't cut her once, and I had very little second cuts (undesirable short cuts of fiber from shearing over the same spot twice). Her fleece is beautiful. We had thought that these two ewes we have were some sort of Suffolk cross, but we got to looking through our fleece book and the breed that they resemble the closest is the Dorset Down, both in body and fleece. Which is really funny that they are identical because they came from two separate breeders.

 What happened to you?
We also noticed after shearing these girls, that they were not pregnant. So I guess we won't be getting any lambs from them till next year, but as to why they didn't conceive? I don't know. Maybe they were to young. I didn't ever notice them to come into heat, but I did see the ram breed them. So thought we would be getting lambs. Oh well. There is always next year. 

Isn't that some gorgeous crimp?

I washed some of the fiber, dyed it with food coloring, and set it out to dry on a rack on the lawn.

Then I spun some of it into a thick and thin crazy colored yarn.