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

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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

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.

Chilling Cold

No pics this time; I don’t think you will want to see them.

As many of you may be experiencing, we’re getting a lot of blasts of arctic cold, and a lot of unseasonably cold weather. It was 3 degrees when I woke up this morning, which is usually unheard of in this area–at least not multiple times a year. Our highs rarely get above 30. A 40 degree day is downright toasty. In a normal year, 40 would be a healthy daytime average.

But, well, this wasn’t a normal year!

And, of course, rather than kindling on those warm 30-degree nights last week, my new American doe (Cissy), kindled on the coldest night this week. So when I got up this morning and rushed down to water the rabbits before anyone else, this first time rabbit momma’s heart sunk as she looked into her first time momma’s cage.

Even if it had been a 20-degree night last night, or possibly even a 40-degree night last night, it wouldn’t have saved these kits. This first time, she kindled straight on the wire. No fur in her nest, no fur on the wire, no nothing–even though she’d tamped down her nest.

I have heard of many people who have had successful litters in cold that’s colder than this. What happened was a risk for many or most first-time rabbit moms. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I am waiting on my Silver Fox doe to see what she does. If she kindles and they survive, it will add a little light to this day.

Critter Update

Originally, I was going to post about my pumpkins or a full post on our new rabbit hutch system in all its glory.

Then, something crazy happened today. It turns out, you’re never too old for surprises.

So, instead, I’ve decided to give you an update on the animals you haven’t seen since they were chicks–or even since they were eggs. Plus, some details on our newest additions, and at the very end… our surprise. It’s both embarrassing and exciting all in one. Continue reading

Update with Pictures

It’s over 90 degrees here. The bees are so hot they’re bearding across the front and sides of their hive, and reaching to the back. One hive is strong–the other I don’t think will make it to winter, let alone through winter.

I was proud of how well our garden was growing until I saw a picture of a friend’s garden. A few months ago I gave them some pepper plants that are now heavy with peppers; our own are wilting and the leaves falling from the bottoms. I’m not sure why, but some 6 of the bell pepper plants are dying, the rest struggling.

Still, life goes on and things grow. Continue reading

20th Post: New Additions!

I have a few posts pending, one especially on hatching eggs, but what’s more appropriate for a 20th “benchmark” post than some pictures of the newest additions?

These are my 9 wheaten/blue wheaten ameraucana chicks. I had 9 out of the 24 eggs I bought hatch, but more on that in my hatching post (later today??). One had pretty severe splayed leg, but after two short stints in a bandaid, he seems to have recovered splendidly and I can just barely pick him out. This was when they were new-new, only just barely fluffed out. These are my July 4 babies. I will only be keeping hens from this batch–so if you’re local to Maryland and will need wheaten/blue wheaten ameraucanas, contact me in a few weeks!

Meet Evie (Evelyn), a Silver Fox doe we picked up on Saturday from Skyview Acres. I will be getting another doe and a buck from them come October, but didn’t want to try and have 3 rabbits (and kits) for someone to take care of after and during the wedding. Picking up one was probably excess, but I love her already. She’s very timid (as rabbits tend to be), but she was the only one I was able to pick up. I tried about 5 other does, some so high-strung I didn’t want to get near them. She’s sweet, calm, but just very afraid. I’ll be getting her pedigree soon, but she is 8-12 weeks old. She will be ready to breed just in time for the wedding to be over when I get the next two rabbits–so it will be perfect timing.

She’s currently being housed in a dog crate elevated in our carport until we put the finishing touches on her permanent home. She was pastured her whole life, and so I’ve been giving her plenty of greens and hay to supplement the feed, and we are starting barley fodder for her and the chickens. We were in a bind Saturday night and put her in with some pine shavings used in the chicken coops, and on Sunday when I raked up some straw/hay to throw in instead, she immediately calmed down–she knows what her element is.

More on Evie and the chicks later!

Memorial Day Weekend To-Do List

I’m trying to post and get dressed and get things done all in time to make a cake tasting at 11am.

Not much is getting done, I’ll tell you that.

I want to post about the chickens, and the garden, and the fact that holy crap, I can grow things!

But instead, until later this evening when I can update about the bees (please let there be no swarm cells!), my to-do list for this weekend will have to suffice. And it’s pretty long. List behind the cut. Continue reading