Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Winds of Change

Cooler weather finally looms on the horizon, so that makes me want to get this year's rabbit breeding season underway.

I snapped a few hasty photos of my junior does in the middle of nail-trimming.

Their winter pelts are coming in and are looking so beautiful.

Sylvia - she has the nicest Creme color of the Creme crosses

Coralberry. I forgot to get pictures BEFORE ear mite prevention (olive oil), so she was looking pretty annoyed

Lobelia.  I'm still not very good at posing, and they have barely been handled thus far
I checked them over and am pleased with their proportions. The two NZR does are very compact like their father.

My NZR buck, Big Boy is going to be a very busy man this season!

He is the only virile buck I have currently, so he is going to be servicing 5 different does. I've still been trying to get my aging Creme buck bred to at least one of my does, but he just can't do the deed anymore.

While I am eager to get started, unfortunately, our moving date is still up in the air.

I don't really want to risk trying to move rabbits that are in the middle of having litters, especially with four of them first-time does.

I was really hoping for October litters, but it may be November before we have kits in the nest boxes.

Even though we are getting very close to finishing the work on our new house (well, at least the work we wanted to finish before we move), we are still running into complications that are setting us back time wise.

Yesterday, for instance we began installing interior doors.

We purchased them all pre-hung and already cut to the necessary dimensions, so we assumed that would save us a lot of time.

In fact, we thought this would be a one-day job, but soon discovered that would not be the case.

NONE of the doorways are square, so we are still having to saw/sand the doorways and trim the doors to make them fit.

As a result, one full day's work only resulted in 3 out of 10 doors hung.

We still have to get the baseboard and trim up, get the hearth built and the wood stove installed, get the water hooked up (and check what shape our septic is in and if that needs any work), and get the fences up before we can begin moving.

Maybe one of these days I'll get some pants on that kid
As if all of that wasn't enough, we found out this past week that our Park Manager is transferring to another park in a couple of weeks, leaving Mark as interim manager again. So not only is he taking on that work load, but he will be interviewing for the permanent manager position again soon.

October is also a very busy month for park events.

We've still been hopeful that we could take our much-needed vacation to the panhandle at the end of October, but with everything going on it's doubtful. It's been 2 years since we took a real vacation!

Moving still takes priority, and I know we'll get there, it's just been so frustrating.

On a more positive note, it's nice to finally feel that cool northern breeze after weeks of daily temps in the 90's.

And it looks like we have one more Muscovy in our flock, and I'm pretty sure now that it is a she.

Even though it has more carbuncling than its obviously female siblings did, it is quite a bit smaller.

In fact, she is not much bigger than my male Muscovy ducklings.

It also trills rather than hisses, which is another clue.

She was supposed to be joining two of her siblings from the stray flock at a friend's farm,  but unfortunately those two disappeared over the weekend. (Watch them show up at the park boat ramps again, ha.)

So she'll just stay with our motley crew.

She has really taken up with the baby Muscovies, and they seem to like having member of their own species to hang out with.

It's a real challenge to get her to go her up with the rest of the ducks at night, but hopefully she'll get the idea.

If she is indeed a she, that will be nice since I already have 2 males in my trio.

I'm looking forward to raising Muscovies next year. In addition to their awesome personalities and self-sufficient ways, I've read a lot of great things about their meat.

In the meantime, it's finally pleasant enough to leave the windows open at night, and hot cocoa is starting to sound real good.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

House Update 9.24.16

The floors are DONE!

The counter tops are in place...........

......the sinks and vanities have been installed.......

We still need toilets, obviously

......and all our interior doors are here and ready to be hung (beginning tomorrow).

A plan for the hearth is in the works, and then we will be installing our wood stove after that is built.

Once the doors are up we will begin work on trim and baseboard.

It's looking more and more like a house all of the time!

Ian and I spent the afternoon on the farm.

Yes, I know - the kid is never wearing pants. I swear he has underwear on!
We took 7 of the chicks down to there, yesterday. Ian misses them, so we had to stop and say 'hi.'

These are the 3 we kept:

"Fancy Pants" - pretty sure this one is a roo. If it ends up being a hen, even better.
No-name pullet
Other no-name pullet
It will be nice adding this colorful, feathery lot to our flock. I have in mind to acquire some heritage breed chickens at some point, but maybe we'll just keep propagating our colorful mutt chickens in the meantime.

I sold two more of my cull drakes the other day, and took our last one down to the farm today.

Sorry bud, but it looks like you're going to freezer camp.
Except for the one white hen (which will be going to her new home next week), I now have my picks for next year's breeding season. My breeding flock will consist of 3 drakes and 8 hens. It will be an exciting spring!

It's nice that our backyard has gotten a little less crowded, but we're still eager to give everybody more space.

Maybe if our geese have more room to roam they will feel less inclined to come inside...

I caught them sneaking in the back door this morning
We really enjoy spending late afternoons in the hollow.

Pretty soon we won't have to leave.

More progress to report soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poultry Warehouse Inc. (and a House Update)

Master Bedroom
I keep waiting to make that post that the floors are finished, but not QUITE.

All he lacks is about 30 square feet in the closets, but it's just been a matter of getting over there to work on it. Luckily, he has a long weekend off coming up, so it will be crunch time!

Something that did get finished this week was the master bath shower tile. And it is so beautiful!

We hired this out, by the way. I only wish we could produce something this lovely in less than a day!

I'll do an official "Before and After" post when everything is finished, but can we just relish the comparison for a moment?

I am very pleased with our tile selection, and it looks so much nicer than that cheap plastic surround would have.

The interior doors have been ordered, we will start buying and installing trim and baseboard, and we hope to be installing the vanities and toilets this weekend. Still waiting on our counter tops.

We discovered a mistake after the cabinets were installed. Unfortunately we put them too close to the kitchen entryway, not leaving enough room for trim. Well, there's enough room for the trim, but it would stick out and we wouldn't be able to open our cabinet drawers. So everything is going to have to move over slightly.

It will be another couple of weeks before we can get the water hooked up, because of our plumber's busy schedule.

Let me just take a moment and address an obvious issue. We have a modular home. We are putting money into a modular home. And because of the way these dwellings are classified, we will never be able to get this money back. We will never have this lovely thing called "equity." Even though this is obviously a permanent house on a solid foundation, it's still classified as "mobile."

Heck, we can't even get enough home insurance to cover the value of the work we've put into it, again, because of how it's classified.

It's frustrating, but that's just the way it is. It isn't any less of a home to us, and we have no plans to sell, but if the unexpected happens and we are forced to sell and move away, it will just be whatever it will be. We have plans to make lots of improvements on the property, so that will raise the value some.

So it may not be a prudent investment based on society standards, but it has value to us because it has four solid walls and a good roof, beautiful property, the distance to Mark's job, and of course, my family living next door (and access to their 40 acres).

Dad and his dogs paying us a visit.
So that's the house update, now for birds.

The chicks are now 4 weeks old and just about fully feathered.

I've been letting them out some to forage, which they are PROS at. I don't recall raising chicks that were such good foragers.

They especially love the downed treetop (yep, it's still there). They instinctively stick close to low cover to help shield them from aerial predators.

Can you see them in there?
Of course, come bedtime, they are pretty difficult to herd back into the pen. But I have to get them back in their brooder cage so the ducks can have their pen for the night. And the ducks have been really stubborn about going up too.

They don't have as much incentive because they are getting feed throughout the day. The younger Muscovies need easy access to feed to supplement their fast growth.

So the evening roundup has become quite a chore.

The geese are usually pretty good about going up. Or at least they are easier to herd.

This weekend, things will be getting a little less crowded around here.

All but 3 of the chicks will be shipped down to my parents' farm, and I'll also be dropping off my excess drakes there (they will be grown out for the freezer later this fall).

Oh, I forgot to mention: we also have one extra duck in the mix, currently.

Mark was finally able to catch the last remaining Muscovy that was dropped off in the park a few weeks ago.

He (along with my White Appleyard hen) will be going home with a co-worker next week.

And yes, I know we aren't following proper quarantine protocol, but I literally have NOWHERE else for him to go. He's been living out in the open with fresh air and green grass, so I'll just have to hope for the best.
For now, he will just hang out with the rest of the gang, eating, swimming, pooping and making a general mess of our poor backyard.

The baby Muscovies know exactly what he is, and they frequently get together and have a long chat.
Speaking of stray birds, the poultry dumper is at it again.

The knobby ones look like possibly African/Chinese crosses and the whites look like Embdens. It looks like a pair of each with a juvenile.
Actually, we don't really know whether it's the same person or not, because this time some birds showed up all of the way on the other side of the park.

I don't exactly need any more geese, but if they are friendly I'd like to give them a chance at a good home. I know one woman who would be interested in some, and maybe some can live at my parents' farm.

While their chances of survival are a little better than the Muscovies, they are still at risk, especially considering the high rate of crime at this remote location (it is difficult to patrol regularly because of its distance from the rest of the park).

Of course, catching them would be no easy task. Our best option would be to set up a funnel trap using netting, and then catch them one by one. Geese are very strong, so even that wouldn't exactly be easy.

Then there is the problem of whether or not they are friendly. Oriental goose breeds can be especially nasty, so I'd hate to go to all of that trouble only to find out they are terrorists with wings.

Now, we certainly have no qualms about eating them, but we haven't had the time to process 4 ducks, much less 6 huge geese!

We'll see. It's possible somebody else has already beat us to the punch, since there was one interested bystander when Mark was out there. That would be fine, really. I just don't want them trying to survive out there when winter comes. They don't belong there, anyhow. The state park is for wildlife, not domestic geese.

I'm perfectly happy with my geese and their sweet, silly temperaments.

We must have one of the strangest ranger residences anywhere.

Once we leave, it likely won't serve as a ranger residence anymore. The only ones still living on the park other than us, are the Manager and his family. They are going to continue to live here until they build their house.

Our old house will likely serve as additional office space, a Ranger rec area or even a Seasonal Ranger residence. It's such a great location, it would make a great birding cabin or something like that in the future.

Oh, I almost forgot!

Five years ago Mark began a project to acquire the private acreage behind our house and incorporate it into the park.

After MANY trials and tribulations, this precious 168 acres has officially been bought!

Mark led a wild hike over there with a few people the other day - the first visitors to hike on the new park land.

I'm so proud of his determination with this project and that he was able to see it through to the end. Somehow it feels better to leave our park home behind, knowing that the beautiful land we look out on every day will always be there. (You can see more photos from this hike here at the park's facebook page.)

Soon we will be making our mark on some new land.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


We were finally blessed with a good, long rain this morning.

The ducks and geese were thrilled!

I finally had to move the chicks out of the house, but they really aren't big enough to head down to the farm just yet, so I had to do a little innovating.

I set up a large rabbit cage in the duck/storage shed to close them up in at night, and during the day they can have the duck pen to themselves.

They also help stir up the bedding!
These are going to be some lovely chickens.

I was expecting a lot of color and pattern variety with their mixed parentage, but they are downright gorgeous!

We may have to repeat this breeding next year. Heck, maybe we'll come up with our own "landrace."

May favorite on the right - just look at those bell-bottoms!

We spent Sunday at the farm, and I took a walk while Ian played with his cousins and Mark worked on the floors.

The Muscovies love their home at my parents' farm. They are finally expanding their horizons and foraging more.

They especially like foraging at the dog bowls.

I noticed today that the two older males are growing feathers back on their necks.

When we first picked them up, both males looked like this:

This is them today:

I don't know enough about muscovies to know whether they just came out of a molt or if it was due to a nutritional deficiency. Either way, they're looking a little less ugly. :) 

Fall is in the air, and the late season flowers are in bloom. We left half of our field natural and mowed the other half (mainly to cut back the lespedeza before it bloomed). 

We really need to take down that old basketball goal.

The power company used our property to access the power lines a few weeks ago and made a nice path.

The walnut grove

Field Thistle



White Snakeroot

Yellow Crownbeard

Great Blue Lobelia

It's nothin' fancy, but soon it will be home.

This week we will be ordering interior doors, buying trim, having the master shower tiled, while Mark finishes up the last little bit of flooring (in the closets). 

Oh, so close.