Monday, May 4, 2009

The Week in Rabbits

If this rabbit could speak....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rain Catchment

Our local feed store was selling these barrels. I tried to ask a few questions about converting this solid barrel into a rain barrel but they couldn't fathom it. They are for planters, not holding liquids, appearently.

Using the plans at
Life is Good in Penticton, including buying the tap, we were quite successful at converting this $65 planter into a rain barrel. I think we'll continue to use the tap as we continue to set up rain water harvesting in our aired climate.

As we "tapped" the barrel, the fumes made my eyes water. It's going to have to be flushed out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My new Steed

It has arrived. It is strong and glossy and ready to take me places and haul things. It challenges me, it asks me to be more than I am. It allows me to go car-lite.
I started out with a beach cruiser, but after a few days riding I knew that it was not going to work for me. I found out that I didn't really ride well in a skirt getting a step through was holding me back. The guy at the LBS was great and took the cruised back as a down payment on another bike.

I worked with the brand they carried and even then the choices were overwhelming: urban bikes, crossovers, road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers... This is a major purchase and will be with me a long time (God willing). I have chosen a Trek FX 7.5 - it is beefier than a road bike, so like a commuter bike. I kept the 700 wheel in front and put a knobby tire on it, and then put a 26" wheel in back with a narrow tire to better take the load of what I put in the bags and get me sitting upright. I'm waiting on disc brakes and fenders. The xtracycle turns the regular bike into a long bike that can haul amazing things.

I have a 23 year old mountain bike I bought in college when they were brand new. I took it with me when I worked for and lived at a state park. I gave it up when my girls were little,having hung myself up on a fence at 8 months pregnant, but later it was my on-campus transportation in grad-school. I've had it out again as I attempt to get in shape again for the xtracycle. It is very heavy steel and I have big knobby tires on it. It's still good for the trails here. I'm feeling some old injuries that have turned chronic and invasive. I may just have to deal with that. I don't want to be sedentary.

flu thought: I had a lunch with a nurse yesterday who had studied flu before. I already knew that flu travels in waves, but she pointed out that the Spanish flu of the early 1900's had a spring wave and a fall wave. The spring variety was relatively mild and those who got sick and recovered were then inoculated for the deadly fall wave. It is the fall wave that we think of when we remember the Spanish flu 1918.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Preppers note

I really want to write about my new bike/ car lite, but in light of the world health organization moving this outbreak to a 5 out of 6, I thought I'd address the issue in terms of our family's preparedness.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a prepper. There was a time I was a preppie but that has been many years ago.

In the last year we have made many preparations, and continue to fill in the gaps for what we think will be hard times with peak oil. However these preparations also work for natural disaster, and pandemic.

Over the last year I've blogged about first aid, alternative cooking and heating, food storage and several other areas.

Is there anything I'm adding or doing differently? Well, as a community leader I've downloaded and printed out some materials from .gov sites to hand out, and I will again publicly speak about food storage. But for my own preparations, I have picked up a few things: disinfectant wipes, nose tissues, and ginger ail. I had not really focused my preparations with disposable items in mind, but for this particular situation, I think it could be important. The Ginger Ail is because that is what our family wants when ill. It's all about comfort. We have chicken and chicken stock and turkey soup and even soda crackers, but we hadn't stocked was what we serve to the bed bound.

My prayers are that all are well and that this is of short durations and limited affect.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Updates

It really truly is spring, it's just that some parts of spring are really cool while other days are lovely warm. We have had much needed deep rain, but it has frosted the last couple of nights - nothing that would take out a daffodil or a pansy. I'm dressed in long sleeves with a wool vest looking out to a day that can't decide if it will get over 45 degrees or not. It's hard to get motivated to be outside when its so wet and chilly.

I decided on the location for the two espalier trees and planted them, but the spot really calls for two more so I'll picking those up soon - darn they're expensive though.
I'm going to plant raspberries today - Mr. Greenjeans is hurt (dislocated shoulder) so he is not able to be much help and not at work. I still haven't built the potato condo because the drill is too big for my hands to operate. I'll have to see what I can cobble together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We're in the milk again

My friend's milk cow has calved and the time of colostrum is done and that cow is producing enough milk for several calves and two families (she is Jersey x Brown Swiss). This is her second year and she is much better at milking - no kicking or fussing and the milk comes much easier. I milked out a half gallon and my only trouble was that my hands got really sore.

The calf is very cute. They are already making excuses not to have him go to the freezer. His daddy is a beef variety, however. I missed pictures of the bummer lambs - so cute!

I came right home and made yogurt and have been reading up on cheese making. Ummmm. Good thing I'm out riding the bike - that fresh milk and all the things it makes is dangerously yummy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Plans for the edible front yard

The time has come to address our front yard. We sort of fell into this house - I wasn't thrilled when I pulled up out front the first time - though we like the inside and backyard. We've never lived near town center before - even if it is a small town.

You can see from the photo how drab and empty the front yard is. My excuse is that last summer was our first summer here and it was spent hand gardening a 1/2 acre. Now I did pull out shrubbary before this photo, but trust me, it wasn't great. This a before photograph, published here for that purpose of documenting a make over. This is the before pictures of our lawn's liberation. You can see the trees haven't even started to leaf out here.

What is awesome is that I went to the local plant nursary and asked for an Espalier fruit tree not really expecting that they would have any, but the owner said, "wow, these came off the truck and I said, "what the ... I didn't order this!" So, we bought two Espalier gala apples - they were destined to be ours. When Mr. Greenjeans met the Espeliars in person, the light went on, and I believe we will be forging full speed ahead into Espalier trees.

I am fairly paralized about the big picutre. The front yard is north facing but we have great east and west sun and the side yard does get southern sun.

Today Chibi and I planted Gladiolas (yes the flowers went in first while I'm plotting the big picture), I top dressed the soil where the shrubs were evicted with rabbit manure, and DH sawed wood for the potato... house.. er condo... I'm going to try the potatoe feature that I learned about over at Rob's world. We want raised beds, and as much fruit as we can get in the ground these first years (last year we planted 4 fruit trees and 3 survived) as well as neighbor appeasing landscaping. I want to work with the neighbors so that instead of being put off by the strange and new approach to landscaping, they too may consider planting useful and edible things.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thinking about getting a new SUB

Yes, it's a major purchase, but I find that I need haul things, you know? Oh.... you're perhaps thinking that as I have a spelling problem that I'm trying to say, SUV. Nope, I mean SUB: Sports Utility Bike.

I live close enough to everything in town to ride or walk, but I find that bringing things home is a problem. Besides I'm enough of a klutz that last summer I struggled to ride safely with a swinging bag or 9 lb laptop.

I like to read the folks over at Homegrown Evolution and have been in love with their bike since this post on taking their newly published book to the P.O.

The bike is by Xtracycle. Sunset Mag. called it a bike that thinks it's a station wagon. You can haul 4 bags of groceries in the panniers, or haul another adult, and there is an attachment that can take long loads like lumber, ladders...

Now, I could either get it as a complete bike from xtracycle (this is a radish - the frame for people between 5' and 6':

Or, I could convert an existing bike or buy a new bike and add the xtracycle kit onto it. That's really the first design. In this case I'm thinking of getting a 7 speed beach cruiser and add the free radical kit.

For a complete car replacement, an electric assist is available for heavy, long rides or rides with big hills.

Don't forget the fender blender for a smoothie mid point in the ride.

Do any of you have one of these bikes? How do you like it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A riot in the rabbitry

Each morning the bunns get a sweet top dressing on their food. They love it and look forward to it. This morning however I didn't have any made up. I tried to explain that but mid-excuse a real protest of thumping and rattling ensued. So, I took the time to make their sweet treet. In fact I made up a 5 gal. bucket of it. I had all the indredients on hand because I had purchased all dry goods in 25 to 50 pound bags.

Our G4s for Rabbits recipe is this:

2 parts black oil seed
1 part crimp oats (this is their least favorate part and the really picky ones leave every oat. When I run out of this 50 lbs I'll try rolled oats)
1 part calf mana
1 part "Docs" for rabbits (has yucca and papaya and things)
I mix it all together with some warmed molasis and a little wheat germ oil.

I give an 1/6 to a 1/3 cup to the giant rabbits and the Holland lops share a 1/3 C. scoop between 7 of them.
Early this morning there was a purple Ibis in our back trees. We brought the dogs and cats in and watched it for quite a time. It looked as if it had spent the night in the tree and was just waking up. It preened and streatched. This is a shore bird and we are fresh out of shores. We began to think it might be hurt and snuck out with a camara and long lens to get a better look, which caused it to take flight. Perhaps it landed mid migration - alone?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden Planning: looking back, looking forward

I know, I know, it's a little late for the planning stage. Honestly I was so sure I'd be able to use the open 1/2 acre garden space of last year that I didn't plan an alternative. Now that the garden is sold and not available, I have to begin the rather daunting task of finding another way.

I've been thinking about many different options - leasing land or buying farm land. I drive around and look at 1 to 5 acres properties, but really I don't need that debt - I need to refinance a looming balloon on this house. And I don't need to be adding a commute to garden. What it comes down to is that I need to make do with what I have: a plain house with a smallish plain yard two blocks from city hall.

We moved here a year and a half ago - this was the house of the person whose position I replaced at church. Last summer was our first summer here and I spent 110% of my energy in the big vegie garden across the street. Now it's time to focus on what's in front of me. The back of the house is south facing and so that is the logical place to plant but we do have dogs out there and it isn't that big. We did plant fruit trees there last year.

While there is still lots going on in the back - I'm going to be focusing on the north facing front of the house. The part that isn't shaded by the house is pretty open and flat - and of course covered in lawn.

Yesterday I began by taking out the ugly fitzer bushes along with another bush that wasn't very alive anyway. What started with quiet project involving myself, a shovel, and a rabbit on a leash turned into a neighborhood project.

There is one disabled guy across the way that comes to help every time one of us shows ourselves for a moment - so he was there and wanted the bushes dragged to his place because he has secured a burn permit and wanted them for his fire. UMmmmm. Then Mr. neighbor came over with a 4-wheeler and a power winch which worked great popping out the small bushes but not so much the larger ones. So he then he got his pick up truck with a chain and up onto to lawn he came. One tow strap broke and nearly hit the one guy who is always a little too close for comfort. The rabbit was relocated several times and as Mr. Neighbor went for his truck I put her up.

At some point the immigrant laborers across the street came home from work and found us entertaining to the point of getting out cold drinks and lawn chairs to watch the action. There was another woman I've never seen before standing around watching with us. Mrs. neighbor came over for a few minutes but had to otherwise keep her toddler occupied.

Mr. neighbor was having such fun (did I mention he got out of babysitting very small children by doing this) that he popped out the roots of the bushes Mr. Greenjeans and I had cut by hand. These came out with the truck and then were attached to the 4-wheeler and dragged across the street and around the corner to the burn pit....under the power lines. (shakes head).

The big job is completed rather quickly - if somewhat more dramatically than I intended when I headed out with a shovel and my rabbit companion. Mr. Greensjeans was out of town taking Chibi back to school after the Easter break. He will return today to not only find his property sans bushes, truck prints all over the lawn, but broken sprinkler lines all along the way where the bushes came out with such force. Did I mention that he hates to take out living vegetation and is plain resistant to change? Well the good news is we don't have the water on just yet as there is more freezing weather to be had. Now, I think I hear my office calling (coward)...... more later....

I need to start taking pictures for you all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hoppy Easter Monday

On Good Friday the birds arrived again. It was so noticable to suddenly have bird song. Even thought the weather has been snowy and sleeting for the last week suddenly on Easter the sun came out and things were green and the trees had buds and of course the tulips and dafodills had been blooming. Spring was pushing through and the weather wasn't going to hold it back.

After two church services that began in the dark of morning with a new fire, and continuing through noon time, and after a nap, the bunns got out to explore the spring. You can't see it in the photos but there is a carpet of new mint coming up and even some dandilions.

I havn't posted photos of these guys before. These guys are 4 months old. The fawn is Tiffany and the white is Pooka. Pooka came down with snuffles and her growth has been stunted.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bunny Monday

Shhh, we are seeking to capture a picture of the illusive wabbit camouflaged in its natural habitat:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Doomer Update

Well spring has energized me to once again pick-up working toward sustainability. My motivation has several facets: stewardship of the earth, a deep belief that this is what is "right and good", a concern for my children's future, as well as a spoonful of belief that all is not going to go smoothly for any of us in the future. It is this last point - the idea that there is a kind of future that needs special preparation - where this blog tends to find its niche.

While I don't think I'll do a marathon 21-day challenge again (which seemed to coincide with some scary financial times where are still grappling with), I am reviewing family preparedness again. We hardly set foot in the grocery store this winter as we ate the foods we had produced and preserved from our garden as well as those we had stored.

One of the things I'm doing now is looking over the pantry - and seeing how we used our food over the winter. I'm getting a better ideas of how much of what we actually use. I bake a lot, and so in addition to grinding wheat, I used 25# of white flour. Some things were hardly touched - some of the fruits and juices are so prized we hardly get into them duing their shelf life (now that's silly and I'm encouraging their consumption while they are prime). I found I'm not that fond of vinegar pickled cucumbers, and that if I were to try and meet all our needs, I would need to dehydrate onions and potatoes to make it through the year (or get much better at cold storage). We are heavily dependent on onions and potatoes. Dimitri Orlov mentioned how crackers were an item to store and I began to watch how many crackers we really did use.

One place where we are completely dependant: cheese. We love cheese, and yet I horrible at making it. This has to change.

I am entering into a different level of food storage - and that is the dehydrated long-term storage. No I'm not also buying cammo and night vision goggles to go with it (yet ;-). I still plan to preserve the bounty and harvest, but I've lost my garden space for good and I think of the dehydrated foods as insurance in tough times - job loss, interrupted harvests, economic collapse... It's also easy to do here - hey, Walmart sells blue water storage barrels and gamma lids for buckets. The grocery store has an entire isle of 10# cans of long term food storage - dehydrated butter, sour cream, milk, all sorts of flavored TVP, peas & carrots, muffin mix, pudding and on and on.

Reading the super-doomers (who have so far been batting better than say, the media or the experts) I get a picture that while we may soon enjoy a return of what looks like the good 'ol days with the pundents proclaiming the return of a healthy economy and easy money, it won't last long. The idea is that for one thing the card house that is modern economics and culture is beginning to develop structural problems, and for another our infinite energy consumption and finite supply will one day collide.

As the darkness of winter lifts (even if it is still snowing), I will once again be
looking toward posting about our own preparations. Such is the saying: make hay while the sun shines

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Now THAT's a talented Rabbit!

Plotting the course:

Coming into position:

Ah, getting down to quilting... where do you turn it on?:

Article on a Mormon cannery in Seattle

This is just a quick post to include an article for the Seattle times about the Mormon Cannery there.

Please do not think I am advocating Mormon doctrine or beliefs (quite the opposite,). I think therer is tremendous value in the implimentation of a common warehouse of equipment for use by an entire town is quite important for transition towns and a post peak oil future. It's interesting that article says these came about in the Great Depression.

Oh, and the reason I don't have pictures up is that we have a nice new camara and I have no idea how to get the pictures out of it. How's that for lame?

Monday, March 30, 2009

My trip to the Mormon cannery

Mrs. Neighbor and I went to the Mormon cannery one evening last week. It was an interesting experience. People sign up to come in shifts every hour of the evening. When you walk in you are handed a slip of paper to fill out with your name, what church you attend and to check out what you want to buy. The food available to purchase is organized by shelf life. Then you go and wash and put on hair nets, aprons, and food service gloves. Everyone is listed on a white board with what you're buying and then everyone sets to work packing -not your individual order, but filling cans to fill the common food stores.

The cannery is in a house on a farm at the end of a dirt country road. On the outside it looks like a regular western farm house with cows in the field next to the house and dogs in a kennel and a plaque on the door. However there is no living space inside the house - the entire house has been converted (upstairs and down, floor to ceiling) into a cannery/food storage area. The wall was taken out between the living room and kitchen and there is a desk as you walk in and filing cabinets (where what you bought is filed away). There are long processing tables and a hoppers to fill tin cans and a way to put the tin lid on and seal it. Everything is packed in #10 cans. There is one white board with lists of places where you can get different information and other food storage items. This information changes regularly according to our host person.

In what would have been the master bedroom is flour processing where flour is poured into cans and sealed (and the mess is contained to that room), in the other old bedrooms, boxes are stacked on custom pallets floor to ceiling in a maze. And in what would have been the laundry room off the kitchen is an office for keep record of what is needed. The bulk foods are brought up from the basement and taken to the various processing stations.

There was an older lady in charge who told people what their job was and everyone set to working. I was given the task of folding cardboard boxes, and the lady in charge watched for a moment to be sure the packing stamp was on the bottom and I was keeping everything neat and straight. I thought it was because I hadn't been there before and was being kept out of the way that I was given that job, but by the end of the evening I realized that every job had equal importance. During the course of a half hour I built a mountain of empty boxes. As the cans came off the line every box was filled, labled, each packed with two plastic reusable lids. The full boxes were put onto a dolly and taken to the bedrooms and placed with other like. During the course of the evening one team had been filling the orders off the white board.

The work was strenuous with everyone working at top speed for one hour. There were no little children underfoot and there were so many people working we were packed in like sardines. There were old people working, strapping young men, and pregnant women. I noticed one quite pregnant woman sitting quite a bit on about the only chair while her husband did the work - each did according to their ability. The atmosphere was happy and people caught up with each other's news as they worked along side by side. As each order was filled the lady in charge would tap you on the shoulder and you would go and settle up. Only checks were taken and a receipt was given and your information was filed and your took your order out of the way to your vehicle and come back in and keep working your shift.

Mrs. neighbor and I were obviously outsiders but were treated very cordially. However at one point two men stopped behind us and said to the other "Well, I just figure the more of them that comes and works with us the less of 'em we'll have to worry about when the time comes."

When the hour was up, the white board was wiped clean the floor was swept, counters wiped, food stowed, packing tape placed in his location, and the next group was standing outside to come in and take their turn working at full steam for one hour. The last group of the night empties the trash and cleans the equipment.

It boggles my mind the amount of food processed every night, and the efficiency with which the whole operation clicks along. There is at least one such cannery in every town in the state and then less frequently in other states. No wonder their symbol is the bee hive. It was very interesting to see lines of people working on common food storage and yet just a little eerie. I know that in Salt Lake city there are entire huge silos that are kept full of food at all times. That must be where the bulk bags come from.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

As the worm churns

Well, worm ranching may not be rocket science but I think I've managed to drown my wrigglers. I've got them new bedding and better drainage so we'll see if they dry out and rev. up. I have 2"x3"x1" plastic bins under the rabbit cages to catch the manure (and urine). I had set one aside for the worms but I didn't have good enough drainage. I think that the cost of converting all these bins to containers with catch buckets would not be cost effective so I'm going to look into finding a place in the ground to make a trench. That way I can water the rabbit manure down and wash out the ammonia so it doesn't burn the worms.

Sadly we lost a bunn last week. It was one of the new Flemish Giant babies - a light gray. He just didn't travel well and didn't recover. We were very sad and gave him a decent burial.

This winter it was as if someone pulled the plug on the economy of this town. Even I was surprised at how it happened overnight. Everyday Mr. Greenjeans is fearful of losing his job. Every week they lay off people both above him and under him.

Today I went to a yard sale at a neighbor's house - they are moving to AK. I picked up a food dehydrator (electric) for $3.00. I guess I've got Mrs. neighbor's attention as she is now looking like a survivalist nut (I taught her well). She wants us to go in on packaged food storage. I like our fresh food storage (I hear Chibi beginning to measure wheat into the mill, now) but I suppose long term packaged stuff has its place. You could bug out with it in its boxes. It's so expensive though!

Our garden land (and house and other land) sold to the neighbor's son just before the bust. He's now looking to sub-divide it for building lots. He hasn't (yet) given us permission to garden this year. I don't know what he's asking for the land. The time is ticking on the season here! I'm going to have to start thinking about raised beds in the lawn.

Boy am I pleased as punch to see a (little) veggie plot going into the White house lawn. I love our president and his family but I think he needs to think outside the box to turn the economy around. Payroll had to tell me I'd gotten my economic stimulus tax break - it's so small it wouldn't take us out to lunch at a fast food place! I am very grateful that we are both employed. We're saving money but we've only too recently been at the end of our financial rope to have much cushion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Still Around

I noticed that Chili posted a comment about wanting to check in (what a sweetie). I checked in because it may be time to begin blogging again.

You know, some folks give a warning that they are taking a haitus, I just seem to waunder off...... must be a personality thing. (INFP for your Meyers-Briggs types).

No pictures today but here is some of what I've been doing: for one thing paying closer attention to my work and really ramping up the creativiy there. I am the keeper of tradition but the folks who pay my salery really like creativity as well.

Chibi and I have taken our rabbits on the road. We have started showing our rabbits and have purchased some more. Chibi's French Lop won Best in Show, and I have picked up another couple of Flemish for show. Beatrice is doing very well and is a constant companion in the house.

I didn't really intend to get into Holland lops but I went with a friend to get some bunnies for her from an old guy who was going out of rabbits. I saw that the little guys only have ice to suck on and the guy who owned them had run out of feed and was only feeding hay, and so I picked up some myself - he said others were interested. After thinking about it over the weekend he was out of town I went back and bought the rest and realized they hadn't been fed since the last time I'd visited. I now have quite a few Holland Lops.

The chickens are doing well and producing beautifully. I did a spring cleaning on the chicken coop this weekend and now have more brown compost materials than I can deal with so it's piled up in the corner of the property to age.

Nee has been accepted to all the nice private schools she's applied for. She has been awarded half tuition.... which leaves $24,000 a year. Mmmmm hope there are scholarships out there or its a no-go.

The wood stove has cut our gas bill to a fraction this winter. We've been buying wood from a guy who goes out to the bone yard at the factory he works for and cuts up shipping pallets to the proper length and takes out all the nails. I figure its a win-win scenario. He obviously needs the suplimental income.

The snow is all but gone except for the north side of the house. Mr Greenjeans is itching to go fishing as the ice breaks up. Related to this is that with my composters being full, and animals producing manure, I've started in on the worm farming end of things. I'll post more on that as it gets going. I think I started with too few worms for the job.

I'll be checking in with you all - even if I'm not blogging every day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Big Bunnies have big friends

For some reason, Beatrice loves dog food. She got in trouble trying to push the alpha female Border Collie out of her food, but while Bernese Mountain Dog, Toby isn't thrilled, he allows her to eat out of his bowl with him.

Her abcesses are getting better. She was not doing well with 'fingers' of abcesses spreading and Mr. Greenjeans reminded me that we have a resivour of information and remidies in homeopathy left over from when we had children and no health insurance. We looked up abcesses, choose Mercurium as a remidy and Beatrice is doing better than she had with surgury. Within 3 days she was zooming around like she hadn't done in months, eating as she should, and the abcesses had shrunk. They are not totally gone, but MUCH smaller.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dog meets webcam

We got a web cam for Nee and us for Christmas so we can stay better connected with one another. The dogs all hear and recognize her voice and the Border Collie caught glimpses of an image on sceen, but in the end her nose told her that it was all fake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bunnday Monday

Beatrice is working hard on recovery.

She did have to return to the vet because the infected ear also came with an abcess in her neck under the ear. She stopped eating and started snorting and having trouble breating deeply. She had surgury, and now has a shaved spot in her dew lap and is getting antibiotic shots in her bunny butt everyday.

Her career as a diva show rabbit has been put on hold for a while.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Come tumble compost with me

As Mr. and Mrs. Garden have moved to their smaller house, they have sold me this composter for $150.00. Of course the one I'm buying is under snow at the moment but if there is another nice day tomorrow, Mr. Greenjeans and I are off work together and can try and pick it up. This is great as all my other compost means are full and the chicken coop needs cleaning.

Have any of you used one of these? How do you like it?

Our food storage feasting today includes leftover lentil soup and cornbread made from the ground corn from the garden. I think it is the grind available from the country living corn auger that has the sweet corn making much better cornbread than polenta.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Soap Making Day

We have finally used the last of the powdered laundry soap we made. While it stored nicely, we didn't like it because it left a white powdery residue on the clothes and the grated bar didn't dissolve well in the laundry. The recipe we're trying today comes from The Tipnut and is as follows:

2 C. bar soap grated (1 bar Fels Naptha = 2 C grated)
1 Qt. boiling water
2 C. Washing Soda (made by arm and hammer but is different than baking soda)
2 C. Borax
2 gal. water
Boil the water in a large sauce pan. Add the grated bar soap and stir until dissolved. (This takes a while!)

Add the dissolved soap and water to a 3 gal pail and then add the extra water. We used one gal boiling water, added the other ingredients, stirred, and topped it off with one gal cold water.

Issues we encountered were that the bar soap irritated Chibi's hands when grating (as the packaging said it would). Perhaps use a bit of paper bag when grating. We had planned on putting it into an old liquid soap bottle we'd saved to the occasion but when it cools, the soap forms a firm gel and I wasn't sure about getting it back out of the bottle. We ended up keeping in the pail used to mix.

We do add just a bit of oxyclean to the laundry soap because we tend to get our clothes really dirty with animals and work. I do think it would be good to rinse the clothes with a bit of vinegar to get rid of any soapy residue.

I couldn't find the materials in town and so ordered a quantity from soaps gone buy (much better prices than Leamans for the same products).

The food storage feast for today is Lentel Soup using the Christmas ham bone, carrotts, onion, ect.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sprouting your Food Storage

I know that sprouts have been mentioned before in food storage but here we are in the winter and our family is having wonderful (if not quite voluntary) meals from our self-sufficiency plans and one thing becomes obvious to me:we still crave fresh vegies. We have some lettuce growing and that is good the once a week that it produces, but what we realize is how a sprouting set-up can be really vital to self-sufficiency.

One can sprout a wide variety of nutritious seeds (dozens of varieties!), the seeds will store well, you don't need a garden, and they require next to no special equipment to sprout. You do need to have gathered the necessary materials however and not be sprouting your garden seeds.

We're not that crazy about sprouts so I didn't pay too much attention to storing sprouts before but now. I have in the past tried to add alfalfa sprouts to our diet (probably when I was pregnant) and one of the problems was that there were so many of them and then they went bad all at once. I can still remember the smell. But here in mid-winter with only canned vegies, they are sounding quite appealing. Also, the chickens are stuck inside their coop because they refuse to set foot in the snow (there's nothing out there for them anyway) and since they are producing nearly a dozen eggs a day, I'd like to give them some greens. That solves that waste problem.

BTW, We had a lovely savory quiche last night for dinner with leftovers to go for lunch today yummmmm.

So, I'm beating the drum of adding a sprouting kit and seeds to your food stores!
this post was edited for grammar

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chibi's New Bunn

This is Eclypse, Chibi's 5 month old French Lop. Her color is gold tipped steel.

"Hey, you lookin' at me?"

She's still worried about the new home. She is however much more interested in the typical tossing things about than Beatrice.

No pictures of Beatrice today. Her coat is too ragged and she's not looking her best from her illness.

Of Weather and Bunnies

The posting is rather sparce because ... well... not much is happening. It is cold - below zero at night and now at 10:00 a.m. it is 5 degrees. We've used most of a cord of wood and will have to buy some. Gathering and cutting wood makes for one more project for the good weather (in addition to gardening and canning and fishing).

Mr. Greenjean's company messed up on his check and so he got a quarter of the pay we were expecting. They're all scratching their ..... and talking about what to do about it but in the mean time, we're feasting on our food stores.

Last evening I stewed one of the roosters we'd butchered this year. I browened the meat on the stove top but then did the long simmering and cooking of vegies on the cook surface of the wood stove. The birds have been a little tough so I'm looking for ways of getting them more tender - if anyone has good recipees for for tough birds, let me know.

Beatrice bunny is still on the mend but it is slow progress. I want to see her 'bounce' back but she's lethargic. We've stopped the antibiotics and are on to pro-biotics so maybe she'll be coming around. She is eating enough to make up for lost time and no longer rejecting anything on her menu. She does see me coming and start sniffing around to see what delicacy I've brought to tempt her. She has me trained to greater amounts of treats.

We took Nee back to school (always so sad) and on the way home went by the breeder's house and picked up Chibi's show bunn. We had been waiting for a certain color that was not born and so the breeder sold Chibi a 5 month old rabbit she's been keeping for herself. The breeder is the president of the local club and wanted to encourage her in youth showing. So nice! The blood lines are to the best rabbits in her barns. Oh, it is a French Lop, doe. Pictures later.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Beatrice Update

First thank you all to the e-rabbit community - I don't even know you all and you've come through with great suggestions. Here are pictures of her recovering curled up tight in the recliner away from dog and foot traffic:

She started drinking water by herself mid-day. This is a huge improvement as yesterday I spooned drops into her mouth but most of it dribbled out. She ate raisins on her own (thanks for the suggestion Ilex), but the only other food she has eaten has been that that I've placed in her mouth and she's eaten. That includes her favorite multi grain crackers with black and white sesame seeds and poppy seeds and her specialty feed (the breeder has it made specifically for her rabbitry) melted with fresh made apple juice.

We all survived my giving her an antibiotic injection (did I mention I took her to a cow vet on the holiday? I had to assume the shot went under the skin and not IM).

I can not believe how much I care about this rabbit.

The new addition

Introducing Beatrice, the [edit: baby] Flemish Giant rabbit (never you mind the strange woman holding her). [She will get another 1/3 larger than this]

Chibi has been pretty low since Nee left for school. We decided that as mom and daughter we would take up showing rabbits. We've been to one show but had the only Flemish Giant and so it was more like parading her for the judge as there was no competition. I prefer the giant rabbits as they are more cuddly and docile than smaller rabbits. Chibi wants a French Lop and is waiting for just the right color to be born.

Beatrice lives in the house (in the laundry room when I'm out) but I'm getting really large cages built (4'x 6') when it comes time to have kits or when she needs some cage time.

The problem is that Beatrice got sick on New Years Eve. Actually, it was earlier but is mistook her bad behavior with me as rabbit heat (I went to put her up so I could go to work and she biffed me hard on the chin - so I went to direct a children's play with a couple of 2" bleeding cuts on my face - nice). When I returned that evening she was clearly ill and was worse on New Years day. I took her to the vet (called in the cow vet for the next town over - yea emergency holiday pay $$$) and she had a raging feaver and an ear infection. He had to get out the books to treat a rabbit but he was kind to us about it. She's on antibiotics and today the feaver is down and the ears are up but she's not eating or drinking. I'm feeding her water and a few sips of apple juice off a spoon - which she takes off the spoon but doesn't eat at all, yet. I'm all ears for suggestions - she's lost over 2 lbs.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

This is a picture of the cat enjoying the new fireplace. This winter isn't as cold as last, but it is below zero at night with daytime highs in the 30s. We LOVE, love the stove. I cooked beans on the stove top the other day. I'll have to get more adept at cooking on it.

The photo is taken wit Nee's new Christmas camara - I still have an old one.