Thursday, January 26, 2012

12.5 %

A 12.5% chance of something interesting.

Today I bred Thistle, our ruby-eyed white buck, to Dandelion, our fawn colored doe. What an experience. I actually felt a little awkward about watch two rabbits "do the deed", but now I know what to look for. When they say the buck falls off the doe when it's all over... they mean it. He literally fell on his side. It was kind of amusing actually.

As someone who has always had neutered or spayed animals, it is so foreign to purposely put two animals together to achieve more animals. Babies are what you usually don't want. But now my mind is being reformed and a litter of rabbits is hopefully on the way.

Rabbits take about thirty days to gestate but can deliver kits anywhere from 27-34 days after conception. We'll see! Dandelion's litter should arrive around February 25th. Originally I wanted to breed Clementine first, but she isn't old enough yet and Dandelion is.

So about that 12.5%. Dandelion and Thistle's litter has a 50% chance of being Ruby-eyed Whites and a 12.5% chance of being an interesting color. While Ruby-eyed Whites are necessary for certain breeding pairs, let's admit that they aren't the most fascinating to find in the box. These colors are grouped together by genetic possibilities and I won't confuse you with the details of color genetics... because honestly, I don't fully understand it myself. Here's a little list of what might show up:

12.5% chance of
Chestnut, Opal, Fawn, Orange, Red

12.5% chance of
Black, Blue, Tortiseshell, Blue Tort.

12.5% chance of
Chestnut, Lynx, Opal, Fawn, Orange, Red

12.5% chance of
Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Tortiseshell, Blue Tort., Chocolate Tort., Lilac Tort.

50% chance of
Ruby-eyed White

I'm rolling the dice for Orange or Red or Black! How cool would black angora yarn be? I know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

After the Rain

Did I tell you we finally got some rain? Friday night and through the day yesterday it rained. Not a real downpour but certainly more than a sprinkle. We also got some hail. Briefly. No snow though. I'm starting to wonder if we will get any snow this year. Then again, we often have snow in February and March.

This morning I decided it was "farm chores" time. We usually do repairs, clean the coop, clean the rabbit cages, work on the compost/garden on Saturdays, but as I said, Saturday was washed away. We actually had a good time baking and watching movies instead.

That left all the chores for today. Which is fine with me. It just gives me a little more motivation to have everything ready for the week ahead of us. So, the coop was shoveled out and the soiled bedding was replaced with hay. I usually fill their coop with dry leaves to save on costs (and honestly who wants all those pine shavings in their compost constantly?) , however after a good rain everything is as can be expected, soaked. So some of the rabbits' dry hay will have to do. Really, a whole $20 bale of hay has lasted over a month and I'm only about 1/6th of the way through it. I am a little worried that if I let it sit too long it will get too moist and go bad before the rabbits have a chance to eat it all up.

Rabbit cages are a pain in the arse to clean, let me tell you! The actual physical act of dumping the contents of dropping pan into a wheelbarrow is not difficult. Playing musical chairs with the rabbit-filled rabbit cages is. I cannot wait to get some racks built to make my life -and cleaning- a lot easier. If you saw my Rabbitry tour video then you saw my current (hopefully temporary) setup with the cages single stacked on wooden pallets with legs. I don't recommend this. But, at the end of the day, it does work and I am thankful that I even have rabbits. Especially that beautiful and dry rabbit shed! It's good to be a rabbit here at the Frühlingskabine.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Planting Plan :: List for Spring 2012

Start your Planting Plan for Spring with me (if you haven't started already). Since we can't really plant anything until March, due to late frosts, I am starting with a list. Next I will draw up a visual crop placement plan using the "square foot method". But for now let's stick with my shopping list of seeds.

I am still trying to find my ideal online seed shop. Burpee is a big name but I don't want hybrid seeds and that seems to be what they have the most of. I want heirloom, untreated, pesticide-free seeds.

Beet, early variety
Brussels Sprouts
Bush Bean with edible pods
Carrot, quick to mature and sweet
Melon, Honeydew Green
Onion, bulb type
Pepper, Hot Large Red Cayenne
Pumpkin, Small Sugar
Onion, (scallion) White Bunching
Tomato, Beefsteak and Paste types

Rye Grass, grain
Quinoa, grain

Buy as a plant:
Lemon, Dwarf tree
Strawberry, Tioga

I will start these like last year and buy an organic one at the market then section and plant:

Chicken Wish List

If space were no object I would have a lot more chickens. Not for the eggs per say, but for the visual variety. Chickens are fun to watch and relatively easy to care for so why limit yourself to one or two breeds if you don't have to? Personally we live in a heavy residential area and I'm sure our neighbors (or certainly the anti-livestock homeowners association) would not appreciate every chicken I pine for... in our backyard. We both understand and respect this unspoken rule which is why we limited ourselves to six hens. No roosters. Docile, quite, friendly hen breeds only. Coop cleaned often. Enough said.

But what if we had the room for as many pretty breeds of poultry as we could handle? Let me show you my "more land, less neighbors" chicken wish list. (By the way mom, the poultry breeds book you bought me for my birthday has left me wanting one of each. *wink*)

not a breed but a mutation

Ameraucana rooster
they have one as a store "mascot" at Sonora Feed where we get all our supplies and he is gorgeous

Golden Campine

Jersey Giant
I saw one at the feed store and it was unbelievably huge (the same height as Cami who is 2)... I want a whole flock of both white and black feathered Jerseys!

Spangled Sussex



Naked Neck Turken

Silver Sebright

Mille Fleur Bearded, d'Uccle rooster
I would just look at him all day...

Egg Art

These are the five eggs I collected this afternoon. Can you believe we are up to five a day already? I think there may be three or even four hens laying at this point and my clue is the color and pattern of each egg. I have heard that each hen lays the same patterned/colored egg each time... so it would stand to reason that if we have four different looking eggs; we have four different laying hens.

If you look closely at this picture you may be able to spot the differences, but it is much more obvious in person. The egg on the far left is very pale with a blue tint, the second is medium in color with a rose tint, the third has a handful of large dark brown speckles, and the last two on the far right are covered in tiny white speckles.

Let me know what you think. Have you heard of eggs being distinguishable between hens?

Magical Bread :: Rolls

Find my original "Magical Bread" recipe and post here!

So... I did try to modify my Magical Bread recipe from loaves to rolls. And guess what? I was successful!

I made the recipe as normal (doubled for two loaves) and then split each loaf worth of bread dough into six. In total, two loaves worth made twelve rolls. Then I let them rise for the second time.

I could only fit four rolls in my 5-quart Dutch oven at a time. Now, to Trevor's dismay, I think I need another Dutch oven to make twice as much magic in a shorter amount of time.

Bake covered at 475 degrees for only 25 minutes. To give your rolls a crispy shell, uncover and bake an additional 3-5 minutes.

Go ahead and give your bread a try as rolls. We used our fresh baked rolls along with soup last night and as egg salad sandwich rolls this afternoon. Delicious!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Around the House

We are supposedly getting some rain tonight. Supposedly. We were also supposed to get rain yesterday and the day before and last week and last month. You know what? Haven't seen a drop.

I'm thinking of making my "Magical Bread" recipe into dinner rolls instead of a loaf tomorrow. I'll post a picture of how that turns out. Cross your fingers and wish my bread rolls luck.

It has been 20 degrees at 8 o'clock every morning for the last week. This means that every morning I have filled up a steel bucket with hot water in my bathtub before heading out to the animals. First I submerge the rabbit water bottles in the hot water while I feed my long eared friends. Once all three angoras have their morning pellets and fresh hay, I replace each of the unthawed water bottles. Then the chickens get the remaining warm water dumped into their water jug. On the way back to the house I fill my arms with firewood and build a fire waiting for the little one to wake up.

On a side note, although I suppose these are all side notes, I have gotten really efficient at building a strong hot fire. Also, the chickens laid a whopping five eggs today! The most we have gotten in one day was four eggs so this is pretty exciting. Go hens!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Egg Count :: December 2011

Mid-December kicked off egg production here at the Frühlingskabine and we were proud to receive such flavorful eggs from Myrtle and Honey.

Takin' Care of Business

I just finished grooming all the rabbits and let me tell you, it is quite the job! There may only be three of them, but now that their coats are really starting to grow out it has become a thrice weekly task. Thistle's wool is at about 2 inches long so he definitely requires grooming three times every week. Dandelion is coming in at 1 1/2 inches and Clementine is only at 1 inch. The rabbits' wool coats should get to be 3-5 inches long before they start to shed or "blow" their coats.

The two girls are naturally cleaner and so, naturally, I enjoy grooming them. Thistle on the other hand is a boy. And like all boys, he is stinky and messy. Ewww. I cleaned him up as much as I could on my own and tomorrow I'll have Trevor hold him so I can just clip his whole underside. Or as I like to say: his undercarriage. I think trimming him up will help keep his "messes" to a minimum. Hopefully.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bees... In Winter?

Really, Trevor and I haven't written about our bees in awhile because there isn't supposed to be anything going on at the hive. It is winter after all. A time when most bees would be huddled around the queen trying to stave off the cold. The only reason they should leave is for "cleansing" flights (read: bee pee-pee-dance).

However, it has not been as cold as it should be around here. We literally have not had a decent cloudy day or even rain in two months which is weird, to say the least. As I type this, it is 60 degrees outside. The same as it's been for the last few weeks. The same as it's been since September.

But it's not September... it is January. Where is our snow?

I digress, back to the bees. So, our bees have obviously been out and about with the warmer temperatures and have been finding lots of pollen. This time of year there are quite a few daffodils to forage on. If you watch this video Trevor took yesterday afternoon, you will see four to five bees with huge amounts of pollen collected on their legs. It makes you wonder how they fly with all that weight.

Looks like we can look forward to a late-spring honey harvest!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 is upon us! It will probably take me until March to stop writing "2011" on any paperwork... as usual.

What did we do here at the Frühlingskabine last night? We slept. I won't sugar coat it or make excuses. No parties for us. We had chores to do early this morning, just like every morning, and we are glad for it. When we awoke, Trevor got up and let the chickens out into their run and fed the rabbits. Then eggs were collected for the perfect breakfast-- two fried eggs, two pieces of toast from home baked bread, and iced peach tea. What a great way to live on the first day of the year.

Rabbit rabbit rabbit! (if you just said 'huh?' then look it up)

Magical Bread :: Update

If you haven't seen my post on "magical bread" and the recipe... look here. You'll want to try it for yourself.

In this house, we eat quite a bit of bread and more so since I started baking fresh bread using this recipe. I don't think I can emphasize enough how much I hate baking/cooking/building things that are not quick and easy. This bread overall is not quick, but it is easy. The three steps take only a few minutes each over the course of about 10-14 hours. I know that may sound like a long time, but if you simply take two minutes to mix your dough before bed, by the time you wake up... the wait is over!

This by far the best bread recipe I have ever tried and better yet-- it only requires flour, yeast, water, and salt! When people eat your home baked bread they will think you are a miracle worker. It's that good.

Here's what I've discovered:
If it's super cold at night when your bread should be rising (like it is here), just let it rise in the oven with the oven light on. Alternatively, you could put it near the fire to keep warm.

If it's cold and isn't rising well the second time, increase the yeast to 1 teaspoon per loaf. You probably won't have any rising problems when spring comes.

It is easier to bake a double batch (two loaves) every 2-3 days than just one loaf every day. They keep fresh just fine in a large ziplock bag and I've needed that extra loaf to take to dinner parties for the host. It makes the perfect dinner gift. You will hear no complaints about this bread at the table!

One 5-pound bag of flour easily makes four to five loaves of bread. I always buy two 5-pound bags at a time so that I get an even ten loaves. It just seems to work that way for me.

Lastly, the more you fold your dough before the second rising, the more air pockets you will have. If you don't fold it you will end up with a denser bread much like potato bread.