First Year Garden

Before I started my first year vegetable garden I had a phase of bonsai trees and wanting to bonsai other plants. With a move coming in a few months I decided to stop buying plants and wait until after the move. One afternoon Lisa asked if we could grow veggies and when I said yes she told me I could buy more plants. We started with some started veggie plants until we could get seeds to get started.

I am going to pause for a moment and say my grandfather had a garden most of the years I knew him, and him not here to guide me this was and is a lot of trial and error.

We started with some tomatoes, kale, coliflure, and some banana peppers, but we did not stop there. in time we added more tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs all in an effort to see what we could do.

Winter is here and we are starting to harvest from the tomatoes, and looking to what else we can plant and plan for the next things we want to grow.

update before publishing: The winter cyclone my kill my garden and peppers as I just do not have the areas prepped and ready for all the plants to survive. This has been a great leaning experience with my garden and I know the next one will be better.

The Winter Cyclone

The last few days have been throwing us a curve ball, thou my typical weather of Florida joke is we have summer and January. The cold front coming in I bought some tarps from tractor supply the other evening to wrap my livestock pens that are in pasture. I found two pack tarps that fit my need nicely and was able to wrap the 4 pens I needed to and secured them with zipties.

This held up well to the winds and light rains we were seeing. This morning when I went and checked everything had held through the night, and I though would hold a little longer for the day. I left and went to a coffee shop to work for a few hours for my regular job, and when I got home I did a livestock walk. I immediately find that the tarp on Rogers has blown back and he is soaked. I quickly verify the rest of the critters and grab Rogers tuck him to me and book it to the house.

Entering the door I call to Lisa asking her to bring me towels quickly. We both work to dry him off and find a suitable bin to keep him in while he warmed up and dried out.

This is a push to fix up the other few tractors I would like to build for the rabbits to go in as all others remained dry for the day.

I May Not Buy Livestock From Feed Stores Again

This story may be why not to name your livestock for the first few days. The day of the cage debacle I bought two rabbit kits to start replacing what was lost. I chose a spotted white one that the wife and I named biscuit an eight week old New Zealand white crossed with American White and a Grey nine week old meat mutt that we called Gravy. I set these two up in a quarantine cage away from the rest of the rabbitry to keep everyone healthy. Through the afternoon and evening when checking on and handling the new additions everything seemed fine. In the morning it was not the case as Gravy was dead. Gravy had shown no signs of being sick. Calling the feed store I let them know what happened and they inform me of the no refund policy, but offer to trade out for a live one next time I come in, so Lisa and I decide to head up there.

Arriving we head inside and see that over half the kits that were there the day before are gone. Left are a solid black and two black and white meat mutts and one all white from biscuits litter. We look at all of them and decide to get the all of them despite some screaming warning signs not to get the all white one(clear jelly poop). Getting home we load them all into the quarantine cage and see them all getting into a bunny pile.

The next day we see that Salt the all white one in doing a little better, but through the day gets lethargic and lays down. I check on Salt a few times in the night the last being at 2 am and they are still alive, so we have passed the 36 hour mark on Salt and the other three picked up at the same time and Biscuit has passed closer to 70 hours. In the morning thou I find Salt dead.

This is now two kits from two different litters that have passed, and in doing research I find that stress can cause things to exacerbate and kill kits. I bury Salt and take a look at the rest of the new additions. Pepper the all black, Cornbread a black and white, and Meatloaf the other black and white were all well, but Biscuit started showing the same jelly poop that Salt had shown at the store. I immediately separate the kits and clean out the cage and replace the bedding. I don’t know if this is just from that litter or something that could be spreading.

We are upset at the loss of life and capital, but like I told Lisa this is a learning experience, and from it we have learned to only buy from good breeders. I have to also remind my self to not go so fast on things as well especially as we know some of the direction we are going to take the rabbitry over the next few years.

in all I have lost 5 of the 6. Pepper is the only remaining one. This is my story others may have different luck in this area.

Declaring War on Furry Tree Rats

When we first started to clean the property the Tangelo fruits were on the cusp of ripeness. Walking back and forth past the tree while working I would grab a fruit off and eat it while working and tending the fire. After the first real cold front the fruit became sweeter, and started missing with bits of peel scattered around the yard. War was declared when I left 6 fruits on the tree one night expecting to harvest the next day. Reaching the tree I looked for the tangelos I was to harvest and only two remained on the tree.
I had threatened to shoot the furry tree rats, but with out a hunting licence I could get in to trouble, so instead we adopted two outdoor kittens. No these are not some indoor from the pound pets, but found through a farm swap group. We looked through a farm group as I needed these cats to be good with both the rabbits and later the chickens we plan to get.
The ad that was posted made full use of the season an the poster gave it Christmas flair which drew Lisa and I in. The kittens were described as elf kittens from Santa,s workshop. I showed Lisa a picture of the three and we settled on getting one of the boys., but after having him home for two days we decided to get his brother, as to give him some companionship. Naming the cats was fun bouncing back and forth between winter / Christmas-y type names and star wars based names. We finally landed on calling the first one Kylo and when we picked up his brother we called him Ren.
We have set up Kylo and Ren on the screened in porch to get them acclimated to the area and to know us and where food is, and until we can get them to the vet. Our goal is to keep the tree rat population in check as to not eat so many of my tangelos next year. Here is to the war on my tree rats.

Chickens, Rabbits, and Tractors

While the image of a bird or rabbit chugging along on a John Deere, and many people I talk to this is their first thought, but this is not what I mean. A chicken or rabbit tractor is a ground cage typically made with PVC pipe or wood and covered in such away to shelter your livestock. These devices are not all that bad, or hard to make and can be a great addition to your homestead. I recently made 2 of these tractors with a slight modification or two in ways that I thought it would help for my needs. There is a lot of modularity in the design and I plan to put together a how to post when I build out a few more so I can refine my building technique.

The reason I was building tractors is that we got some polish chickens from some new friends. We were offered these birds when we picked up our cat Ren. Separated from the rest of the flock as they were smaller and not getting along with the other chickens, or so we were told we accepted these chickens. Lisa has been wanting chickens for some time now and getting some grown birds helps with the learning curve as well as puts us in eggs quicker.

So update on the kits I bought we have lost 5 of the 6, with Pepper being the lone kit left. Pepper will be moving out of quarantine in a few days, as they are not showing any signs of illness. Monday we will be giving a nesting box to Delilah and hope to have kits a few days after that. Rita Hayworth will also be placed with Rogers to see if we can get a lift from her.

-After writing this post before reading for the edit Rita escaped again and we are not pursuing as hard this time as she did not lift when we put her into the cage with Rogers