rabbits

 

I am very excited that rabbits will be returning to our little farm this coming year. We’ve had rabbits most years, but gave them to a neighbor last year because the houses we had were very difficult for me to give the rabbits proper care. They were all metal, sat about 18 inches off the ground, and had a fussy door closing system.

Part of living small and regenerative is to think not just about right now, but how will I do this in 5, 10, 20 years, but also to think about the plant or animal.  How do they grow best? What makes them happy? What do they need to be their best at all times?

So off I went in search of rabbit information.

  • First I created a chart where I could list the inputs and outputs of rabbits.
  • Then I read Beyond the Pellet and created a list of homegrown food possibilities for where we live.
  • Then I read Food Web  and Practical Permaculture and figured out what animals/plants support and depend on rabbits along with housing ideas.

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Housing — My research has led us to a multi-housing system. We will put the wire cages in the slat house over manure collectors (which will have a 2 layer worm bin).  The wire cage will be connected by a pipe to a concrete/brick burrow area (which will have a door on top, so we can clean it, That in turn will be connected by a pipe (that can be closed off at night, in cold weather or during kindling) to a rabbit yard. I’m calling the yard “hobbiton” because it will have hills made of partially buried buckets, small trees, rocks, a watering system, and be surrounded by a thicket of willow trees.

Feeding — 

  • 75%  = willow, hay, clover, grass, wheat grass
  • 25% =
    • comfrey, crown vetch, dandelion, honeysuckle vines, trumpet vines,
    • sage, lettuce, spinach, kale,
    • parsnip, pumpkin, berries, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, peas radish, summer squash, turnip
    • trimmings from apple, peach, grape, lilac, and maple trees
  • Supplement
    • mineral block / salt stone
    • clear, clean water  — always
    • commercial pellets available during transition from other homes to here. Our kits will be fed homegrown their entire lives and we will provide educational materials for anyone who buys a kit that will help them continue the homegrown feed or will provide help for transitioning them to a pellet based diet.

Nature/Yard/Hobbiton —

  • Year 1: Plant scrub willows 6 inches apart and in the fall trim back to 2 feet tall
  • Year 1: Bury 2×6 all around perimeter with rabbit fencing attached. create slopes/mini-swales for drainage, create shelters (buckets half buried then covered with dirt, cream dirt bath area, plant with grass + clover mix, add some rocks for climbing and nail scraping.
  • Year 2 -3: Feed 1 small branch per rabbit per day, circling the yard so each tree has plenty of time to recover, and prune back each Fall.
  • Year 2-3: Each late Autumn sow grass+clover seed and cover with straw/hay
  • Year 4: continue to feed to rabbits. Attach 2nd layer of fencing to the willows for extra protection.
  • Year 4 and on — continue to reseed and cover each winter.

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  The practical bits of putting lots of theory into place on our little farm.

Advent 2018

Advent —   Here is last year’s blog post on Advent. It is much more my philosophy and this year’s post is more pragmatic.

Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.

Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.

Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.

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What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.

I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!

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Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading.  Just the way I like it!

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1 (Sad, but true fact: When we first got Jasper we listened to HP audiobooks every night as a family. Jasper always fell asleep and I would carry him to his bed and then go to bed. Now, he sleeps best if Jim Dale is reading in the background.)

What I’m watching:  Nothing this week

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  Rainwater collection systems, gravity fed household water supply, designing a “sustainable village” for an author, and Advent.

transitioning land use 1

When we first moved to our little piece of earth it was a corn field with a half acre of woods smack in the middle. You could actually see the corn stalks for almost a whole year after we purchased it. We decided early on not to use any chemicals on the property. I bought bag after bag of grass seed (all different types), clover seeds, and a hay mix.We put up fences and bought goats and even a Jersey cow. We bought hay from a neighbor to feed them. Gradually a mix of green things began to grow.

At some point in the first few years we decided to stop mowing the back acre and a half. For time we let the goats roam and graze back there, but it was hard to keep track of them and they ended up outside the fence as much as they were inside the fence. So we fenced it off and just let it go wild.

Now, 15 years later it is a young woods. There are probably over a hundred sycamore, maple, oak, and cedar. It is a beautiful area. This year, for the first time, we are creating paths around the perimeter and into the center of this young woods. It would be a lovely place to build a tiny off-grid house for either Hannah or Michael.

In front of the old woods was another 3 acres of field. We’ve used it as livestock pasture, chicken house and pen, and for the past 6 years, since the big tornado, we’ve let it go wild too. We maintain paths through it and try not to encroach beyond the paths — except where Michael is digging the new cistern/small pond and a ditch system to help the land drain better. We have about 25 new little trees in this area.

Into this area I plan to plant willow trees around the cistern,  nut trees along the paths, fruit trees hidden among all the others, and some trees intended to be firewood in years to come. If I figured properly, we will need almost 100 trees. It will take a few years to be able to afford and plant them all. We’ll be building a new chicken coop and several chicken yards close to the house, but protected by the trees.

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What I’m reading:  Harry Potter 3 in German, The Celtic Way of Prayer, Becoming

What I’m listening to: Ghost Hawk

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who, The Good Place

What I’m learning in Welsh:

  • a / ac
  • y /yr / ‘r
  • ond
  • yma
  • ar
  • fferm
  • di-waith
  • ysgrifennyddes
  • peintio
  • wal, bref, llong, llawr, nenfwd
  • dweud
  • rhywbeth
  • yn y Gymraeg
  • beth
  • rwan
  • o’n I isio
  • well i mi
  • had yn hyn

What I’m thinking about:  

take-out box

 

These are two of our take-out boxes / lunch packing containers.

My personal favorite is the stainless steel one on top. I prefer it because it is rigid and the top locks on pretty tight. It is not leak proof and it does get pretty hot. However, with arthritic thumbs that rigidness comes in handy when I drop it.

My daughter and husband prefer the softer silicone containers. They fill up nicely, hold more food, can be microwaved, and then pack down tiny when they are empty.  They are also easier to tuck clean & empty into your purse or backpack when you are heading out to eat and want to bring home leftovers.

Ideally, I’d like a round, shallow, stainless steel tin to add to my rotation.

As far as reducing your plastic use, styrofoam use, and low-waste lifestyle goals, these are pretty easy. They don’t cost much and last forever. Our silicone ones are about five years old and the stainless steel one is seven.

 

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What I’m reading:  Harry Potter 3 in German, Cherringham #12, The Celtic Way of Prayer

What I’m listening to: The Grey KIng

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who, The Good Place

What I’m learning in Welsh:

  • Geaef
  • Ysgol
  • Dillad: gwregys, esgidiau, esgidiau rhedeg, sanau, hosan, hosanau, sgarff, crys-t,
  • gwerthu
  • Cymru
  • Cymraeg
  • Dw i isio dysgu siarad Cymraeg achos dw i’n caru Cymru a dw i isio yr iaith Cymraeg parhau.

What I’m thinking about:  Working through plans to add layers of regenerative agriculture to our little farm. Rabbits are coming back with a redesigned home. Chickens will be back the next year. Raised beds (2 1/2 feet raised) are being designed. Paths are being laid out for the final bit of our woods, and I have a tree/bush/plant/seed list started.

Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve

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About 3 months ago, I decided to switch back to the Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve shampoo bar.  My decision was based on several factors: ease of use, ease of travel, lack of plastic, organic, and a small company I can be proud to support.

Shampoo Bar: I use the Ayurveda Herb bar and have noticed a bit more body in my greying hair.  I use this by creating lather in my hands and then running my fingers through my hair and massaging my scalp. I use the leftover lather to get the “stinky bits”. Once a week (on Sunday morning),  I run the bar over my head, create a big-time lather, and really scrub my head. I follow that with an apple cider vinegar rinse (1 TB ACV to 1 cup warm water, pour over your head, let sit 1-2 minutes, then rinse)

Healing Herb Lip Balm: This is the best lip balm I’ve used yet. Soft, creamy, and I don’t have to constantly reapply. I always buy two — one for my purse and one for my bathroom. The little glass jar can be used for many other things when it is empty. My old jar is acting as a lotion tub in my purse, It holds enough for several outings, but weighs next to nothing.

Citrus Face Scrub:  I bought an ounce of this to try because I was certain I would not like it. But, it turns out I really do.  I liked it enough to order a 5 oz jar as soon as my 1 oz jar was empty. There is enough sugar to give you a scrub but not so much that you feel like your face is peeling off. The citrus scent is refreshing, but not overwhelming.  I love that it comes in a glass jar! Again, I can think of uses for the jar when the scrub is empty.  I attached a small wooden spoon with a ponytail holder to my jar so I never put my fingers in there. I refilled and put my clean 1 oz jar in my 3-1-1 kit.

Body Lotion: Again, glass jar, wooden spoon attached with a ponytail holder! One small scoop melted between my hands will nourish the most stubborn of my dry spots. I use this right after a shower and it soaks right in without leaving a greasy mess behind. Another half scoop before bed on my shins and feet and I am ready for bed. I chose unscented, but I may order a few sample sizes of ones that are scented as gifts (and take a sniff to see if I like them. Plus, I’d like two more 1 oz jars in my 3-1-1 kit.)

Just so you know, in the past month I have used a bit less than half a shampoo bar, 2 oz of face scrub, and 2 oz of body lotion, and just enough lip balm to make a nice dip in the center of the jar.

 

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What I’m reading:  Harry Potter 3 in German, The Celtic Way of Prayer,

What I’m listening to: The Grey King

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who, The Good Place

What I’m learning in Welsh:

  • mwynhau
  • chwaith
  • teledu
  • Dillad — siwt, crystal, trowsus, esgidiau, menig, siwmper, het, ffrog, cot, blows, sagest, tei
  • newydd
  • Dw i’n gwisgo ccrys newydd.

What I’m thinking about:  Freedom of the Press, finalizing cold weather preps around the house, and rabbits.

grocery day at a new store

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This is the Kroger in Jeffersonville Indiana. I’ve been wanting to get down there and look around for a long time, but it seems like one thing after another kept getting in the way.  Now that I’ve finally been able to make the trip, it is a priority that I shop there. I went in with my reusable grocery boxes, produce bags, and cotton bags. I used every single one and could have used more . . .

Normally we come home with a few produce items in plastic bags (like potatoes and spinach). That was still true, but only because I read out of bags this time.

Things like beans, rice, ginger crystals, nuts, oatmeal, muesli, trail mix all normally come in a plastic bag, but I was able to use my small cotton bags and bring it home without plastic. I definitely could use a few more of those small bags, but I think we’ll figure out a system pretty quick and maybe not need to buy many more.

I’m thinking about taking my glass storage containers (with the UPC code on the lid) and keeping them in my grocery box (as they become empty), then at the store I’ll pour the beans into my cotton bag, weigh it, print out the price sticker, and then pour the beans into the glass jar and repeat the process with another dry good. That seems like it should work pretty well. By having the UPC on the lid, I can avoid the back and forth looking for codes that we experienced this time.

They have a bakery, salad bar, meat department, and cheese department too. So I will try using my reusable containers to pick up that stuff too. We’ll see if they let me and how smoothly it goes.

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What I’m reading:  The Forest Church, Harry Potter 3 in German, Cherringham #11

What I’m listening to: Merlin

What I’m watching:  News, Doctor Who, The Good Place

What I’m learning in Welsh: 

  • Da iawn
  • Da iawn, dioloch
  • Dim dioloch
  • lawn, dioloch
  • Sut dych chi, draig.

What I’m thinking about:  heat, warmth, tree planting, and how to raise a garden bed up 2 1/2 feet.