Watermelon Gazpacho

Believe it or not, this post has been 8 days in the making! So I’ll get it out of the way so I can start catching you up on the rest and get this site done!

I’ve been trying to work less, exercise more, eat better. We’ve been selling some rabbits, slowly going down the waiting list, and butchering what’s left.

Bonbon had another set of babies! We only lost one after the first day, and now I have a colorful pile of fluff balls. We’re so close to getting NPIP certification for our chickens! More on that later, but all that remains is the paperwork itself. Testing is all done.

But back to this eating healthy business. I have to admit our garden is pitiful this year. What we did put in has failed, except for squash, corn and a couple of cucumber plants. The handful of herbs, peppers, eggplant so kindly gifted by a local farmer–failed. Probably neglect on my part this time. I just didn’t have it in me this year, but next year will be better. So aside from a bumper crop of squash and hopefully tomatoes (we have a field of tomato volunteers!) we have had to buy from local farms and markets. And I can’t complain about that!

Our fridge is almost constantly stocked with peaches, watermelon, peppers, and more. So, I bring you: Watermelon Gazpacho. Continue reading

Overdue! The Therapeutic Post for Me

I’m overdue for a post, but what else is new? The rabbits have been continuously evaluated and some Silver Fox and American rabbits moved on to their new homes. I’ve lost another intermediate rabbit (sadly :(). More rabbits have kindled and some have lost litters, some babies are doing well and growing into proper bunnies. We’re getting ready for the Maryland Poultry Swap. There are piles of chicks everywhere, the ducklings are turning into ducks and my garden….

Well, I have a lot of planting left to do.

But the updates are for another post.

I’m going to get personal for a minute. So if you don’t like overshares, don’t bother reading. If you’re struggling with a heart rhythm disorder, feel free to read. Maybe I’ll give you some support, or maybe I’ll piss you off because our situations just aren’t the same.

This is a long story because I have to get it off my chest, not because it’s a particularly good story to read. It’s not life-changing for anyone but me. It’s about my anxiety, and my stress, and my need to feel normal again. And how one little [big] thing can throw that off. I’m not going to die, at least not today, and that’s the feeling I need to hold on to. Continue reading

The Fastest Update I Ever Had

You know those French Angora kits I posted about 30 minutes or so ago?

I just went out to check on them again, to find them all still and lifeless. One of two things happened:

  • They overheated
  • She accidentally stomped on them

I saw her going in and out of the nestbox before, so it’s possible. But with a high of 90, I think it’s more likely that they overheated.

One of the 8 kits is alive, and it’s currently rooming with the Americans.

No matter what did them in, I’ve learned an important lesson: Trust my gut. This could have been prevented had I brought the kits inside like I considered doing a few hours ago. Stomping or heat–that would have solved the problem.

Just an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. But there’s nothing I can do but learn.

Mike reminded me that had I gone to work this morning like I had originally intended, it would have been a problem either way.

So–learning is left.

Silver Foxes and Americans Galore!

We have so many rabbit kits right now, I feel like I’m swimming in them. The first round of Silver Fox and American kits are of age now that I can start sexing, tattooing, and calling their future owners.

Because of the wonderful Silver Fox stock we got (when we bought Whitmore Farm’s rabbitry), we have a waiting list. For the Silver Foxes from those lines, we’ll be weighing, evaluating and tattooing the rabbits. Any that aren’t up to par will be scheduled for butcher in mid-June. With any luck, the worthy kits (and the American Chinchillas) will be sold before then.

The Americans, although rare, have absolutely no waiting list! That’s six kits hopping around, all for me. I’m not too worried about this, as I want to give them the full 12 weeks to grow out. Any at 12 that look good I will keep for myself, grow out a little longer, or sell at that time. The rest… Well, butcher day is mid-June. While from two weeks ago, below is an adorable picture of the rabbits out in the tractor with mama. We had cages to clean. And you know what? This litter has gotten so darn friendly since I started bringing them bunches of dandelions every day.

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We have another litter of Silver Foxes from our “original” line (Penny and Weatherby). They’re right on track with the others, and huge. A 10-kit litter, and at 6 weeks all of them were at 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. That is great growth. The problem? The dam and sire do not have great type. They both surprised me by carrying blue, and the dam has surprised me by being an absolutely fantastic mother on her first round. The kits are all healthy with not a single loss even in the cold. If there are any solid kits in this litter (a few look promising), we might retain them as breeders for ourselves or sell them. Otherwise, we just have a great line of wonderful meat producers.

Beyond that, we have another kit of rabbits from Whitmore Farm lines growing–two or three weeks behind the rest. And the surprise for today?–

BABY BUNNIES!

Bonbon, our chocolate French Angora doe, was bred about a month ago because she was begging for it. I didn’t leave her and Halo together long, and I was a little dubious of whether the deed was done. When she started digging food out of her feeder a week or so ago, I was a bit more sure. Below are her 8 kits. In the fashion of all of the rabbits here at Morgan Farms, she picked a less-than-ideal day to have them. High of 90, but she wanted to be early and couldn’t wait until nightfall.

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I am a bit worried. Maybe because she’s a first-time mamma and maybe because the Angora learning curve is even higher than the others, but I’m worried about the heat. She had them on the wire in a huge pile of hay. She pulled fur and scattered it about her nest, but seems to be trying. So fingers crossed and, if it gets too worrisome, these little buggers will come inside. 8 adorable kits. I think I may have one lynx, and the rest are either cream, fawn or possibly even REW. They’re too young and I have too much to learn to say for sure. I’ll keep you posted as they grow, though.

And last, but not least, our new doe Sweety had a litter of 10 Americans. Sweety came to us a week ago as a bred doe from Florida. She is a breeder we got to replace Leah (the American doe killed in the dog attack). She has a beautiful deep blue coat and was bred to a black buck–thus the black kits in this litter. Of course, black isn’t a showable color, but it has been used in breeding programs to try and deepen the blue in the American’s coat. Unless the blacks have stellar type, they will be gone from our homestead–but I can’t wait to see what these blues grow into.

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Well, it’s time to shovel poop, and try to convince people they want to buy it. Nothing makes me happier than a phone call from someone asking to buy rabbit poop!

When Predators Attack

A post coming tonight or tomorrow on the duck brooder–I want to get a good before and after picture of those messy ducklings!

Part of why I didn’t post is because on Friday morning, we had a dog attack our rabbits.

With quarantine and the herd we have right now, our rabbits are set up in a few main areas–our original run-in, the garden run-in, and a tent in the backyard. The original run-in is the best hid, underneath our magnolia tree and behind the chicken coop. The problem?

There was nothing blocking anyone or anything from coming in. Continue reading

The Ducklings are Here!

Did you know? Or did you guess?

We got ducklings!

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Back in December we put in an order for 10 Welsh Harlequin ducklings from Holderread Waterfowl Farm and Preservation Center. If you don’t know who they are, they are a well-respected breeder of geese and ducklings located in Oregon. They primarily focus on heritage stock, and have some beautiful birds that come from beautiful lines. Of course, not every bird is going to be show quality or perfect, but they start with the best.

By getting our ducklings from them, I could be certain they were purebred and not a hatchery spin-off. Not that there is anything wrong with that! But we really want to focus on some of the heritage breeds around here, and I wanted to be certain in what I was getting.

Welsh Harlequins are listed as Critical on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s list. The Welsh Harlequins originated from two mutant (or sport) Khaki Campbells. They are are not a particularly old breed, but they’re particularly beautiful and are said to have maintained their ancestor’s impeccable laying ability. Both of these reasons are why we chose them, as well as because they are a smaller duck suitable for our little homestead. If you want to read more about the breed, please do so here: American Livestock Conservancy. Continue reading

The Vegetable I Wish We Grew

What about this: a tribe of asparagus children, but they’re self- conscious about the way their pee smells.

Asparagus. With Easter around the corner and everyone posting pictures of their crop coming in, I get a little jealous. And a little mad at myself–if only I had started last year!

You see, I love asparagus so much that I will cook it in great big batches and eat half of it out of the pot. I will share with Mike, but begrudgingly. I can have five pounds of the stuff in the fridge and still buy more.

Just looking at pictures of it makes my
mouth water and makes me consider cooking some for a late night snack.

I usually eat it steamed with hollandaise (way too easy now we have homegrown eggs!), but sometimes I just eat it plain. Sometimes grilled. Sometimes roasted with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and lemon pepper. Sometimes freshly cut in a salad. Usually just hollandaise, though, unless I eat the potful before the hollandaise is done.

But anyway. So this delicious vegetable. I never get sick of it. Ever. I eat it like candy. I will eat it with every meal. Dare I say it? I love it more than pasta. More than cake.

Those are strong words.

People always say if you plant too much you will get sick of it. Impossible. Simply impossible. So then they, and you, tell me to go ahead and grow some.

You see, THAT is the problem. We have a plan; a five-year-plan, give or take. To save up as much as we can to buy a “real” farm, or at least more land. And I fear leaving behind too much.

You see, we already have 13 blueberry plants to leave behind, and that is one of my favorite fruits. And the four apple trees, another favorite. Not to mention the maple trees and the butternut trees and the peach trees and the raspberry canes. And the old magnolia tree I fall in love with every time it blooms.

Some of this has been here long before we got here. Some of it we put in. A lot of it is just going to stay behind. I understand that is how you grow and find new places but it still stings.

I’m not sure I can leave the asparagus behind as well! With our luck, it will start to produce as we’re moving.

Oh yeah, and the slight issue of where it will go.

In the meantime, I’ll be stalking all the local markets to see if anyone will have some for sale, and it’s time to sneak it in from the grocery store into the freezer before Mike catches me.

New Site!

So, what do you think? I’m still working on getting data into the pages, but would love to hear from you! Do they need more contact forms? Less? Allow for comments on all the pages? Sidebars? I’ve currently left all pages except the blog here very blank to allow for a “cleaner” look at our site.

The rabbitry and fowl pages will be updated in the coming days as I am able to get pictures of our animals and update it with some great info about the breeds we raise and the state of things here. It’s hard to do with a broken camera lens!

Well, if you haven’t seen yet, we’ve expanded a bit. In the last few months I have added American Blues and French Angoras to the herd. But the surprising move was the purchase of an entire rabbitry. We doubled the number of rabbits here in a matter of two days, from being told I was the “lucky buyer” to getting them delivered and setup on the property. The herd of 16 rabbits (American Chinchilla and Silver Fox) are settling in nicely, and we are deciding which stock we will be keeping and getting rid of, and which are past their prime breeding age. Many of the rabbits are also going through quarantine–keeping three herds of rabbits going and quarantined from each other is a challenge I’ve never considered before.

More details on the goings-on around here later, from goats to bees to chicks and poultry testing, and all the way to boxes full of kits and a late seed start. For now, I have work to do.

A Change is Brewing

So many things have happened in the last few days that I don’t know where to begin. I will be spending the next week and maybe a little longer finessing some of the pages at the top of this site, and then updating what has changed. It’s beautiful and intense.

We’re always up for it.