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Homestead Journal 3/25/18

Another week of planning for spring. This is one of the busiest times of the year for us. There are so many things that all need to happen around the same time. We have  baby chicks coming, baby bunnies being born, garden planning, and many other things going on. This also tends to be a more expensive time of year for us since we are still expanding and needing to spend money on infrastructure. Changes are being made at the homestead everyday to make things more efficient and cost effective. So far our tracking sheet that we created is working out great! We are able to see exactly how much money we are spending each month of the year and what we are spending our money on. Having this information will be very helpful for us when we are planning our farm budget for the following year.

Chickens:

We are still getting about 3 dozen eggs a day from our layers. They have been outside enjoying the sunny days. The outside run on the back side of the chicken coop still has quite a bit of snow in it so we threw some old hay in the run so that they could get out there and dig in it.

Chickens in the tunnel.
Hay in the outside run.

The new layer chicks will be here the week of April 9th. We still have some work to do to get ready for their arrival. A while back we purchased a new hanging water for them in hopes that they would keep a hanging water cleaner than than the one that sits in the chips. The new waterer will also hold more water than the ones that we have used in the past. We are also going to try a new type of feeder for these chicks. I see lots of people use this long type of feeder so I thought we would give it a try.

New feeder for the chicks.

The layers needed a coop refresh so we added 5 bags of pine chips to each side of the coop. They may need one more refresh before we do the total coop clean out in the spring. We also set Rooster free from isolation. He is back with the flock now.

Coop about 4 days after the refresh.

With our fodder set up in rough shape we decided to buy plans for a new set up. This is something that we have been talking about doing for a long time. With the number of chickens that we have we need to make two pans of fodder a day. Our current rack only provides one pan a day. We have been trying to figure out a way to get two pans out of the set up that we have and we could not come up with anything. The new set up will allow us to do two trays of fodder a day and the rack will be comparable in size to the rack we have now. We are also hoping that this new set up will make better quality fodder. If you read last weeks post, you know that we were having problems getting the root mat to grow. We still haven’t had much luck with that but it has improved a little.

Fodder today. Still has some seeds. Not a good root mat.

The new system will have an automatic watering system and will recycle some of the water for a few days before cleaning it out and adding fresh water. The new rack will hopefully be sturdier than the one that we have now. It will be made out of PVC pipe and almost all of the materials that we needed for this project we had laying around. The whole project with plans included will cost us about $50.00. They sell this same system online for $450.00. We ordered the fodder plans from Half-Pint Homestead.

Rabbits:

With all of our eligible does pregnant we realized at the last minute that we needed another rabbit nesting box. Luckily, we had all of the materials that we needed to whip one together quick.

Roxanne kindled 7 kits and had 4 that survived. That seems to be the most she will keep out of any litter. Her kits are crosses with Rex and we hope to keep one out of this litter. Although she only keeps a small number of kits from her litters, they do tend to grow faster than the kits in other litters.  Rose kindled 6 kits and all survived. She has a super fuzzy warm nest made for them.

Rose’s nest.

June also kindled this week. She had a big loss of 5 kits and only has a couple surviving. This is out of character for her. Her last two litters she did not lose any. Rachel and Piper are still pregnant and  they are due in a couple of weeks.

We have a new buck in the rabbitry! His name is Maverick and he is a New Zealand/ Flemish cross. He will be replacing Ralph as our New Zealand/ Flemish buck. Ralph was getting to be extremely aggressive to the point that we did not want to breed him with any of the does and we could not handle him without him biting us. Ralph was a big beautiful rabbit and we got quite a few litters from him. His coloring was incredible and I am hoping that he passed that gene onto Maverick.

Maverick. New Zealand/ Flemish buck. DOB 1/2/18. (In house Roxanne and Ralph).

It was processing week again and we processed 9 rabbits. Four were Rex and they weighed in at about 4lbs processed the other were New Zealand/Flemish crosses and they weighed in at about 3lbs processed. Ralph was in this batch too and he weighed in at an impressive 7lbs. We are trying to have a wider variety of meat weights available for purchase. Ideally we would like to have a range of 2-4 lbs.

Garden:

Prepped 225 three inch starter pots with labels for all of the plants that we will be starting indoors this year. Some of the plants will be for our garden and the others will be to sell. We have some customers south of us that are in a different hardiness zone so we start plants at two different times about two weeks apart. It is nice to start plants for the other zone because we get to start them earlier in the year than we get to start ours! This weekend we started all of the seeds for our southern customers. Orders have already been taken for some of these plants but we will still have extras to sell. We decided to only start tomatoes and peppers inside this year and direct sow everything else.

Seeds are started!

We ordered a new garden cart! The garden cart is one of our most used tools around the homestead. The one that we ordered can hold more weight and is just a little larger then the one that we currently have. This new one will also hook up to the ATVs that we purchased earlier this year with one flip of the handle. Our old cart needs a little TLC because we used it for much more than it was made to handle. We do plan to fix the older cart so that we are able to use both.

Projects/General:

Finished some rabbit foot key chains that I had started with our last batch of rabbits and started more from the ones that we processed this week. To see how we make these click here.

Rabbit feet in first soak.

We made a trip to the store for rabbit hutch supplies. Since we were making the trip we decided to purchase enough supplies for three hutches plus the supplies we needed to finish the hutch that we started building last week. We also ordered all of the supplies that we will need to build the fodder rack.