Blog, Farm

“Deconstructing Straw Bale Beds, and Preparing Our Garden For Spring.”

Straw bales, before and after tilling.

Finally, we picked out the last of the tomatoes (most were green) and ripped up the straw bale raised beds! Once they were up and the bale strings were taken off, we tilled our whole garden section up!

Hoping We Wouldn’t Hit Any Unwanted Nests In The Bales:

After taking down our lettuce bed early, due to a yellow jacket nest, I was skeptical we would get away without another, but fortunately, we didn’t have any other nests in the bales! We did however, find tunnels on the bottom of the bales, once we lifted them up. They looked pretty abandoned, and we never saw any animal. Probably because, our loyal mouser (Forest), kept everything clean of pesky rodents. Very grateful, for a cat who takes his job seriously!

After pulling them up.

Rabbits Put To Good Use!

Once we took them up, we just used a pitch fork and ripped them apart, so that the tiller had an easier job of mixing it into the ground. Now, this is the part I’ve been waiting for, to get good use out of my Rabbits! (other than breeding them). I was thankfully able to mix all their Rabbit poo (AKA garden fertilizer) into the garden so my husband could till it all up! This is great, because now after all the rains come and go, this will get the grounds all nice, fertilized, and ready for our garden beds, this Spring!

Notice the tunnels, in the dirt?

Our Upcoming Garden Bed Plans:

Our back yard is a bit sloped downwards. So another nice thing is, that when tilling all those bales (and fertilizer) into the ground, it really helped get us progressing, towards fixing that slope. We hope to get a coop built soon, and some chickens out there to continue mixing up our soil, but we have so many projects right now, that isn’t the main priority, quite yet. We are just glad we got that finished and ready for spring.

We have this book! Going to read it to see if there is anything else I can do to help our soil!

Recap Of How Straw Bales Worked:

If you haven’t read my last garden post, and are thinking of doing Straw bale raised beds, I will link that post here. We liked them a lot, for where we are located (gardening zone 8B), and how we could till it all for the next garden season! I will also post a picture of how they looked, way before we started taking them down.

The before picture, taken during Summer!

The beds we are doing next, will be concrete block raised beds, and I can’t wait to write a post on what we will do for that! Where we placed our straw bale beds, wasted some of our yard space, because we put them in a bad spot, space wise. So, this time around, we are hoping to utilize our space better so we can have more, useable room back there. Although the bales, were a very versatile option, the blocks are also versatile and we can’t wait to try those out. We’ve seen a few people use that method recently, and it turned out great, so we wanted to give it a shot!

After tilling everything! Dirt ready for Spring!
Blog, Evergreen Rabbitry

“New Experiences In A Beginning Rabbitry: Real vs False Pregnancies”

Flopsy, and Cottontail. 2 of 3 breeder does.

Although we have researched a ton about (Standard Rex) Rabbits and how to care for them, what to expect when breeding, and all of those things. We still don’t have much experience with it! We’ve only been at it since this last June, so in total, about 5 months. If you have followed along, you probably expected (as did I) baby Rabbit pictures everywhere, around the 20th of September! Unfortunately, baby Rabbits never came.

First Breeding: Expected Litter

We decided to do one breeding with 2 of our 3 breeding does in August, to get September kits, just before it got super cold out. All precautions were taken, as they bred for the first time— both the buck and the doe’s first time! That went smoothly, he fell off quite dramatically, twice! I took that as a good sign, and expected a litter in 31 days. We bought a Rabbit the very same day, who also got bred (at the breeder’s) for the first time as well. The breeder had said, the doe never lifted her tail, but there was still a chance she could be expecting. I originally didn’t expect her to be, but both Rabbits started acting different around half way through. I got high hopes there would be 2 litters, for sure.

I saw them looking a bit bigger, acting different (affection wise), eating different amounts of hay and pellets, and drinking more water. So, I became hopeful that both breedings had turned out successful! The day before the due date, one doe pulled just the smallest amount of hair, but enough to see tufts of hair, in the hutch. I figured she was in the process of doing such, and I had just interrupted it. The due date came and went, and still no good reaction to the nest boxes and no hair pulling, any further. I am assuming, after thinking on it, that the doe who pulled hair, had a false pregnancy. She did just move to a new place, around different bucks and such, so that makes sense. Where as the other doe, wasn’t showing any signs at all really. I think, she never showed signs and I was just hopeful for her to be, and that was all.

 I never knew how difficult it would be to identify a true pregnancy, from a false pregnancy! Or how to tell if that’s even what happened, with them.

Probably going to get this, for some of our messier Rabbits!

Waiting Until Spring: More Hopeful

Now, I have decided that since they both did not take, and it is now Fall,  I will try again in the spring time, hoping they will be more willing to try again! I’m starting to think its better this way, as there were a few times, one of my does escaped! I had to fix and tighten, a couple things on the hutches. I will just continue preparing our set up, for the baby Rabbits, this Spring. We cannot wait to have them, and gain that experience! I’m sure once we have a few litters, it will be much easier to tell the difference between a true and false pregnancy, in the does that I have. Once we get into the swing of things, I may try to breed them through Fall/Winter, but that all depends on how it goes, and how my Rabbits handle their pregnancies!

Rehoming a buck:

Tyrell, is one of our breeder bucks. You may have heard of him, if you have followed along on our social media page, or I’m sure I’ve mentioned him on one of these Rabbitry posts. We bought him a couple months ago, now. He is a 1yr old Blue Rex Buck. His previous owner, was going away and had to get rid of her Rabbits. So, I saw his picture, he looked healthy, and we decided to buy him! However, as we are still very new to this, we are still learning what to look for, quality wise, in the Rabbits we get. So, we brought him home, and looked at him, compared to our other Buck and we just aren’t sure if we want to breed him for our Rabbitry. 

Like I stated previously, we are fairly new to this, and are still learning what to look for. We want the absolute best quality, considering we will be selling to people. He is a great tempered buck, nice coat of fur, but for a breeding buck we aren’t too sure, and that’s what we needed him for. He just doesn’t fit our personal standards, so far. In our Rabbitry, we got Rex Rabbits for being, versatile. He just doesn’t seem very versatile (as in being for meat rabbit and pelts, garden fertilizer, show rabbit, etc).

Tyrell.

With that being said, we have decided to try and re-home him, to someone who can get better use of him. With us, we need any room we can get and we cannot afford to have a buck who does not breed for us, currently. We are planning to do meat in the future, but not at this moment in time, as I know most people just cull the unwanted Rabbits they have. We just couldn’t with him, and not knowing really, where he came from at a year old now we didn’t feel comfortable, with that option. That is why we have chosen the route, of rehoming. 

We have yet to find him a home, but we sure hope someone pops up soon! because he sure is a great buck, and we need to get a new breeding buck soon, for our Rabbitry.

That is all the news, and updates for us right now. Wish it could have been more exciting, and had tiny little rabbit pictures, but its where we are with that! Was it hard for you, to distinguish the difference between true and false pregnancies, in your does when you first started out?

Blog, Farm

“First Year Garden Update: September 2021”

Our garden beds.

What We Planted:

  • Tomatoes plants 
  • Yellow Onions (bag of started, baby onions)
  • Pickling Cucumbers (planted from seed)
  • Garlic (cloves, not seeds)
  • Carrots (planted from seed and starts)
  • Lettuce (planted from starts, and seed)
  • Spinach (planted from seed)
  • Swiss Chard (planted from seed)
  • Strawberry plants
  • Bell Peppers plants
  • Cayenne Pepper plants
  • Jalapeno pepper plants

What Thrived vs What Didn’t:

Our lovely Tomatoes.

Our tomatoes did great! We have had a consistent small harvest every day which worked perfectly for our little family of three. I was even able to make a good amount of freezer pizza sauce! We planted the peppers next to the tomatoes and they had it rough with the weird heat waves, and I did not pinch them at first, at all, so we have got a few tiny bell peppers from it, but not really any useable ones, and the small rodents ate them before we could anyways. Unfortunately, the slugs took out the other pepper varieties earlier in the season as well, and they just never grew back, fully. So, sadly we didn’t get to use any spicy peppers.

our Peppers. Pinched all the newer buds off, hope it helps grow this little guy.

Our cucumbers never did too well either, we might have planted them at the wrong time. They had a very slow start, and produced very small fruits so I never got to do pickles this year, although it did grow a couple tiny ones. They also just looked yellow, and sickly. We planted the garlic pretty late in the summer, so we understand why that didn’t do too good. It was a quick decision, that we didn’t think too much about, we just had it lying around and planted it, as we had never done garlic before, but we should have done the research.

Our sad onions. They were deeper in dirt, but this was after I pulled and checked them.

We bought a bag of onions to put in a planting bin, they were the yellow onions and i’m not quite sure what type exactly, but they did not grow at all, sadly some just bolted asap, and others didn’t grow at all. We planted carrots from seed, and also planted “little finger” carrot starts, but none of them grew. I think it was because they did not have enough dirt to root down into and needed more room, potentially.

The Cucumbers. I didn’t even get to make a trellis, they never really grew. it only had just a couple tiny curled pickles.

The Strawberry plant, did great, at first! Then the heat wave came and slowed it down, with some burnt leaves. It then, grew a bunch of runners and I think that is why the fruit became so small and few, to none, as I did not clip the runners off. Our lettuce, we planted from seed— “black seeded” lettuce and we also got starts of “salad bowl” lettuce, those got eaten by slugs at first, but then after that, they grew back and did pretty okay. We were able to harvest some baby lettuce for a little bit! The spinach we planted grew, but it bolted asap, so we couldn’t use it. We also planted Swiss Chard, but once again, the slugs ate it. Unfortunately, we had to take out that whole bed due to a nest of Yellow jackets, so we don’t have pictures of the lettuce/spinach/chard and couldn’t replant any of them.

Our Strawberries. I pinched most of the runners, but should’ve sooner. We started with 2 plants.

Next Season’s Tactics:

For our Carrots, I will give them more dirt, to grow deep into, and try to thin them more properly, once they’re big enough. 

The Peppers, I will pinch them for the first 2-3 weeks so they grow and get a better root system going, before making any peppers, as well as try to watch how I water them.

For our Strawberries, I will pinch off the runners and focus on keeping it from trailing away so it does not use up it’s energy. 

The Cucumbers,  I will try to give them more fertilizer and maybe check them for bugs more frequently. They kept turning yellow and sickly, with curled little cucumbers, so I don’t know if it was bugs, or some kind of nitrogen or potassium deficiency. I will also pay attention to how much I water them.

For Our Garlic I will plant that at the correct time next season, early spring maybe this fall, and see how it goes.

We have this book, it has very helpful info!

The Lettuce did pretty good besides the slugs, and it needed a little bit more space, so I will prevent the slugs and give them more room next time! The Spinach I think just was effected by the extreme heat we had– it grew right before and bolted right after.

For our Onions I will start them by seed this year, and in the house at first, to see if that helps. Then I will plant them outside around our other plants as a sort of barrier, to see if they like that better. I’ve heard others say the bag of started onions, sometimes just bolt and stay small, which is what ours did.

Oh and I will also find a way to get rid of slugs, before it’s too late and my plants are gone. We will probably plant a few patches of French Marigolds here and there, to prevent our crops from being eaten and remove them from the general area. They are the worst during our rainy seasons, where we live!

What We Are Planting Next:

For reference, our garden zone is 8b. Click Here to see an informative planting calendar for this zone!

The List for our next Garden season (this coming spring):

  • Carrots (from seeds)
  • Onions (Green onions, and yellow onions; from seeds)
  • Lettuce (from seeds, and started plant)
  • Spinach (from seeds)
  • Swiss Chard (from seeds)
  • Zucchini  (from seeds)
  • Cucumbers (from seeds)
  • Corn (from seeds)
  • Strawberry plants (and seeds I saved from this year)
  • Garlic (from cloves)
  • Tomatoes plants (and seeds I saved from this year)
  • Bell Peppers plants (and Jalapeno peppers, just to try one more time without a green house).
On our book shelf. A great read also!

Herbs and Such:

  • Rosemary (from a start)
  • Basil (from a start)
  • Chives (from seeds)
  • Peppermint (from a start)
  • Comfrey (from a start)
  • Lemon Balm (from a start)
  • Lavender plants

All the herbs will be in pots or potting boxes, the cucumbers and corn will be along our fence, and the rest of the garden will be done in a Concrete block, raised bed type of garden.  I can’t wait to show that design, and what we plan to do! Currently, I am just planting in spring, and I stop around September, so I don’t deal with the fall/winter garden. Overall, for our first time we did pretty good, and i’m happy with the outcome! We still got to harvest things and use them in our meals, so it was great- even if half the garden didn’t do the best.

How was your Garden this year? Do you plant through the fall/winter?

Leave a comment! I’d love to hear how your garden is doing!

Blog, Evergreen Rabbitry

“Our Pallet Rabbit Hutch #2: How We Built it”

3 Sided Rabbit Hutch. 2 small sides with one, long breeder side, for a momma doe and her litters.

We are back at it again, this time a bit different! I mentioned in my last Rabbit Hutch post (linked) we would be doing a 4 sided hutch next. This time, however, we have decided to make it a 3 sided hutch, instead. Two sides being for our 2 breeder bucks, and one longer side for 1 of our breeder does. We have full walls to divide them for their own fully, separated spaces. We also personally use rabbit runs so that our Rabbits have more room to roam in the yard! This hutch design is still enough room for our breed of Standard Rex Rabbits, and even more roomy if you have a type of mini Rabbit breed! The smaller sides could be used to separate the baby doe/buck Rabbits, an still be close to the mother doe who is right next door, but we personally just use the two smaller sides for our bucks right now!

This hutch is the same general idea from last time, just a little simpler and smaller by a few inches. Same basic material list from before, just with a couple things changed, or taken off. My husband says this one is a much simpler design than the previous, although still similar, due to less brackets on the frame work part of things.

Here is our step-by-step guide, hope you can use it for your hutches! Also, this one cost about the same as last time, maybe even a little less because we already had leftover materials from other projects. So, it was around $200 total cost.

Materials:

  • 5-6 pallets. (We just used what leftovers we had from the other hutch build and also some scrap pieces of plywood and siding that we had around.)
  • 8 door hinges
  • 3 Door handles
  • 1 x 1/2″in wire mesh flooring *(know the size mesh flooring needed for the size of Rabbit breed you have. We have Standard Rex, but if you have a smaller breed, maybe look into a smaller mesh flooring, and/or maybe putting a flat lid in there for their feet to rest on. occasionally).
  • You can use the same mesh for the doors as well, but we used different smaller mesh wiring for that.
  • 4 locks of any kind (we used a 2 1/2″ inch barrel bolt lock for main doors and a 1″ or .5″ smaller for the small side door).
  • 3″ inch mending plates, 4 for each door (we also had extras from last time, so you may see two different ones in the pictures).
  • vinyl roofing ( 3 sheets of 8′ roofing)
  • box of 1 1/2″ in nails
  • box of 4″in screws
  • box of staples (to staple wire flooring down)
  • box of 2″ Wood tight screws.
  • Optional: paint, and primer.

Step 1:

For the beginning obviously its to start the frame, the height for this Frame was about 2′ off the ground and roughly 2′ for inside height. Attach the legs to the sides of the bottom/floor frame. Place a beam in the middle for stability, and a beam on top, in the front that will later be used in regards to the roofing. Then place those two side beams on top, (both sides) for the roofing as well.

Picture for step 1.

As always, please remember not to paint the inside of hutch. Rabbits will chew on the wood and would be at risk of ingesting the paint, so try to be careful when painting the  outside! Also make sure no staples, or pointed wiring is going to poke them or be loose enough to be found and eaten. Rabbits *can* eat anything, even if it isn’t good for them!

Step 2:

Next it is painting the frame, and placing divider walls. This one was just custom fit with a couple trimmings done, so that it was a tight fit. Those measurements were; Height: 1.5′ and in length about 4′ this is rough estimate. That little wall divider was about 19″ x 23″in. Before putting those wall dividers up, staple down that wire flooring! Also, we now have cut and placed the 3 pieces of plywood across the top for the roofing. Roughly, the sizes were, 5.5″ x 3′.

Picture for step 2.
Picture for step 2.

Step 3:

Now we place the outside walls. Sizes for back wall, were a little over 2′ x 3.5 ft. Sizes for front wall was 2′ x 21″ and side wall that’s boarded has about 28″in boards. Notice, we are still using that temporary bottom board to keep the walls looking straight.

We like the glass bottles, so far! although we have the plastic ones, as well. The glass makes it easy to see if water is dirty!
Picture for step 3.
Picture for Step 3.

Step 4:

This step is solely for painting, paint all of the outside, next after this will be making and painting doors before being put on hutch as well as attaching the roofing.

Picture for Step 4.
Picture for Step 4.
We use these kind of pellet feeders as well! They work great for us!

Step 5:

Now for the doors, there will be three, the two side doors are both, 23″ x 20″ and the front smaller door, is about 14.5 x 22″. Hammer the plates on each corner from and back, paint them and hinge them to the hutch, with their handles. Attach the roof. We cut our roofing to about 66″ long overhanging about 3-3.5″ inches. Once we applied the roof, there is a gap in the front between that and the door frame. attach a piece of wood to cover that gap or you could even put smaller wire across it, if you wanted. We put a board. Now, once doors are done and painted staple some wire (mesh, or you need something sturdier than chicken wire) onto the doors and if needed, cut out the holes for water bottle and/or pellet feeder.

The next and almost final step is the side door for the breeder side of this hutch, the sizing for that is 10″ x 12″ in door. No pictures for that yet, because we aren’t breeding our other doe quite yet. But, it is the exact same style and size as the other hutch’s side doors, if you need pictures and for that! (that one is linked in the top of this post). Mark where you want it cut it out and screw on 2 pieces of wood on the back to hold those boards together, and attach hinges and lock. If you used plywood for this side wall, the back stabilizer boards are really not needed, since it’s all one piece. *You may have to touch up the paint a bit on small side door, due to cutting it out, it may scratch the paint, a tad.

Picture for Step 5. No front board, yet. That was done after.

Step 6: Finishing Hutch!

Our yard is not level, so we had these temporary boards underneath them to build it on level ground.
Newest addition, next to our first build! (2 sided breeder Rabbit hutch)

Now we are finished with this 3 sided Rabbit hutch! Like stated with the last couple pictures, we are waiting to remove the temporary leveling boards under the legs, until we deconstruct our straw bale garden beds. We will use that dirt and straw to level out the ground underneath these hutches, this new one is on part of the most sloped area of our yard, so once we deconstruct our beds, the temporary boards will be gone! Now that it is September, we will be doing that very soon!

This hutch is really sturdy. Whether you paint it, or just use a clear coat to protect the wood, it looks so fresh! I’m thinking both of these hutches will last us a good long while, before we have to build new ones or even fix them up! I’ll give an update in a few years!

Next up for our DIY projects, is a chicken coop! That one will be fun, because it will be with a shipping container my husband got from his work’s scrap pile. Anyways, that will come soon, so keep an eye out for that post as well! Can’t wait to have our own chickens again, and grab eggs from our backyard!

Blog, Family

“Trusting The Lord, While Moving Your Family.”

From a hike in Oregon, we did on our honeymoon.

Dream Home

I have a good list when it comes to where I want our family to settle down at. I want to have a farm on 5+ acres, I want to have room for our kids to play in our own orchards and pastures, with plenty of farm animals. I dream of a small, cosy home right in the middle of it all, where I make all their meals and we gather with family. Most importantly somewhere safe, and hopefully a great community around us. With the world the way it is right now, I have come to find that I’ve asked myself, and God quite often if that is selfish, or if that is not meant to be for us. Regardless, I know I will still love our life, just as I do now if we never have that specific, down to every detail, dream.

Housing Market

We have always kept an eye on the housing market just in case something golden shows up out of no where, but every piece of it that we pursue turns to dust and we get the door shut in our face. It’s frustrating, not knowing where we will move, what we will get, and how it will turn out, but I know God provides and He has not failed us yet, nor will He ever. We found a beautiful property, a great price for 7 acres, it was close to both our families, and it even had a sweet old, 1900s (falling apart) house on it. It was the “something golden” we were looking for, so I thought. It seemed so fitting for us! We tried to go after it, and it didn’t work out. Then it got re-listed 2 months later! We tried again, and still couldn’t do it. We had gotten our hopes up over that property, but it wasn’t the right one for us. 

The Lord’s Plan, is Not Our Own.

Where we will be putting down roots and settling our family, is so unknown. My husband and I talk all the time about where we see ourselves building a home, and honestly it used to be we saw ourselves right here forever, but not anymore. As far as we can see, of course. If it’s here in this state, or across the entire USA, I really could not tell you. Regardless of where we see ourselves, I’ve accepted the fact that God has different, better plans for our future. I felt pretty guilty for the way I acted beforehand, being frustrated when I just needed some patience. I know the Lord is good, and I know He takes care of us. So, I changed my attitude, I prayed [for forgiveness], and I thanked my husband for being encouraging.

I’ve told the Lord so often, that I’m thankful for having what we need, that I will be happy with whatever we have, regardless of the specific requests I’ve given. As long as our little, growing family is healthy and safe, I’m happy! With what is going on in the world, everything is so uncertain; safety is so uncertain, and not because of sickness, but because there is so much hatred down every corner. It can be scary, especially if you have little ones to take care of. I just encourage you to trust the Lord, He will provide. So, as hard as it is, I’m trying not to worry too much about where we will end up, and where we will build a home, because it’s already taken care of by the good Lord himself.

An Oregon beach.

If you are also hoping to move your family right now, you probably know how difficult it is to find something and how dangerous the world is right now, on top of everything. Maybe, you even had your mind set on a specific property that didn’t end up working out. I’m here to tell you, I understand the frustration and the worry, but God is still good! His plans for our lives cannot be altered by anyone, but Him. As for the worry of the dangers that this world holds; be smart and proactive, but don’t let fear control you. As for dreaming of a farm, or whatever your dream home is, I’d say it’s okay to want that as long as you are happy with what you have currently! I’ve seen the Lord work in other people’s lives, and I’ve definitely seen Him work in our lives! So I don’t doubt He has a wonderful home, just waiting for us (and for you) to find. Just keep working towards it!

In the meantime, I will give thanks for what we do have, and I will pray for the things we hope for. We all have a tendency to become selfish in our desires; It’s a sinful fault that we all have, unfortunately. We just need to be thankful for the things that we have been given no matter how small. However! that’s another topic for another time and I don’t want to trail off. I just encourage you to also, give thanks for what you have, pray for what you hope for, and have patience in the waiting because the Lord does provide.