Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oh Yeah, It's Summer

Monkey Flower blooming on the river's edge

It's been another incredibly mild and rainy summer this year. We've had several days cool enough to leave the windows open! That is almost UNHEARD of for a July in middle Tennessee.

But now, finally, in the middle of August, summer decides to set in; temperatures in the high 80s, humidity upwards of 80%, and heat index in the low 100's.

HOT, in other words. UGH!

Oh yeah, it's summer. It does this EVERY year.

Of course, this heat wave just so happened to coincide with the replacement of the HVAC and ductwork for the ranger residence. Sounds nice, and indeed it will be, as it's supposed to be a more energy efficient unit. But not when it takes FOUR DAYS  to install. Mind you, that's FOUR DAYS  withOUT  AC. Ian and I spent most of those days basking in the AC at my parents' house. But the rest of the time it's been Sweaty Muggy Crabby City. And extra buggy, too.

I will never take air conditioning for granted again.  EVER!

Been having to keep a close eye on the rabbits, too. Even though the New Zealand Reds are in the shade all day, they were starting to show some signs of heat stress. So I decided to go ahead and put a fan on them too. Luckily, the fans for both groups of rabbits seem to be sufficient to keep them cool. Better safe than sorry.

Acer and Cardamom saying hello

I've been trying to train all of the rabbits to use the stick valve water bottles I inherited in abundance from a retired rabbit breeder. The older Cremes got it, no problem, but the young rabbits are being really stubborn about it. I got two cheap water bottles at Tractor Supply for the Reds, but they are the LEAKIEST sorry things I have EVER seen. I have to fill them twice a day because every time a rabbit moves in the cage, water streams out. It makes for a very sloppy mess around the cages, not to mention putting them in danger of running out of water. I will NEVER buy anything from Home Rig brand again. (Incidentally this is pretty much the only brand of rabbit anything  that Tractor Supply sells.)

In addition to the terrible bottles, I had purchased J-pliers of the same brand, and they were so pitiful I threw them away after fighting with them for an hour.

I should have read the product reviews before I purchased either of these items, since I'm obviously not the only one hugely dissatisfied with their products. A unanimous one out of five stars. Lol.

 Live and learn, I suppose.

I decided to move the older hens and their tractor to the backyard.

They were spending so much time in and around the road, I was afraid they would cause an accident. There had already been several close calls. They and the new trio haven't exactly meshed, but there isn't any fighting going on either. But now the new guys want to roost on TOP of the chicken tractor, and every night I have to move them to safety. They are just asking for a Great Horned Owl to carry them off. Seven birds are a little cramped in the tractor, so I just moved the new guys back to their pen for now.

I'll be moving the older black hen to the farm until processing day. In addition to her and  two (or three) roosters, I need to determine which of the free range hens are laying down there. I suspect there are numerous free loaders in the group who would make some excellent chicken and dumplings.....

The excess Silver Appleyard drakes will also need to be processed soon. Before much longer they will be harassing the hens mercilessly.

Here they are, all grown up! Those are a pair of old Pilgrim geese in the background.

We did finally get to taste one of the young drakes we processed in the spring. I sauteed the breasts and made a glaze to go over them. It was DELICIOUS! (Yeah, no picture. I am so bad about taking pictures of entrees, because I'm always too eager to eat them!) I'm looking forward to eating the rest.

The garden has been doing so-so.

I've gotten a handful of zucchini, but there seems to be a lot of growth and blooming without setting fruit. I'm sure it has to do with not enough sunlight, and probably not enough room either.

The cucumbers are about done, but have been fairly productive. Again, lack of sunlight, and general lack of hot days, probably contributed to that.

Out of the two tomato varieties, the Cherokee Purple have been performing the best by far. They have HUGE, HEAVY fruits that are meaty and delicious. Loving the color too.

(Again, no picture. By the time I remember we've already eaten them.)

The Amish Paste aren't doing as well. I'm sure they are quite crowded too, and since we never got around to staking them sufficiently, they are all flopped over on each other.

Despite the neglect, and all the other factors, it's done well. Especially considering we haven't watered once, in several months. But then we have had quite a bit of rain.

So now we're fighting that late summer lethargy, and de-motivation. I'm also having a sudden relapse of Fibromyalgia symptoms, which has put a damper on my enthusiasm for just about everything. Kind of a bummer.

We made our first offer on the house, and are waiting to hear back from the owners. The suspense is killer.

I hope we know something before the weekend gets here.

So with the soaring heat and humidity, and the droves of biting insects, we spend most of our time indoors. Between trying to keep Ian happily occupied and keeping all of us fed and bathed, I still make future plans for our little homestead. And look forward once again to cooler days.

Mark on a recent rare trip down the river. So looking forward to the day when I can join him again.

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