Friday, December 18, 2009

flour tortillas

One of the easiest , simplest money savers a family can do is to begin making their own tortillas. Once you make your own, you will never buy store bought ones again. I can make us 15-20 large tortillas for about 50 cents and my time and I know just what I am eating.

The biggest problem newbies find when making tortillas the first few times is they are too fat.This is not always the problem of the tortilla roller but the recipe itself. Any tortilla recipe that has baking powder in it is going to make a fat tortilla no matter how thin you roll it.

We eat a lot of tortillas here and not simply because we eat alot of hispanic foods. I will put anything in a tortilla and call it a wrap. Spaghetti in a tortilla with cheese is surprisingly good as is scalloped potatoes and ham. I always wonder what you call chinese stir fry in a tortilla other than really good?

Keep in mind that when you make your own tortillas there are no preservatives in it so they will not keep anywhere near as long as store bought tortillas. If I keep mine in an airtight bag in the fridge, they will last about a week, however, they dont seem to be as flexible as the store bought ones after a few days, so they tend to be hard to use.

my recipe

3 cups flour
2 tbsp oil or lard
dash of salt
1 1/4 cup water or there about

mix all ingredients until dough forms. Flour hands and knead about 10 times. Let dough rest with moist towel covering for 15 minutes. Heat pan, griddle or stove top til very hot. Break off ping pong ball size ball dip in flour and roll thin.It should roll out to about 7-8 inches. They will not be perfectly round like store bought either, so get over it. Place tortilla in pan or on surface and cook until it begins bubbling and turn.Cook until bubbling again and remove.

all total it should take 2 -3 minutes per tortilla, if it takes longer your surface is not hot enough

cheese balls

One of my favorite christmas time treats are home made cheese balls. Now there are a zillion recipes out there for them and some are very good. Unfortunately often times they also cost crazy money to make. We are poor folk and simply cant afford a $20 ball of cheese to go with our Dollar General crackers.

My favorite is very simple to make and can be made with a number of minced type meats. I normally make it with dried beef that I chop finely however one can use ham, roast beef, corned beef, chicken, shrimp, crab etc.

I generally only use the cream cheese but have added shredded cheddar, mozzarella and bleu cheeses. It just depends on my budget and the flavor I am looking for . I have also taken fresh or dried veggies and processed them down into tiny bits and stirred them into the cheese mixture. Broccoli, sweet gr or red peppers,hot peppers, scallions and carrots make a colorful addition and add some flavor and nutrition. I sometimes add a dash of wine, a splash of liquid smoke or hot pepper sauce as well.

The outside coating can be done with most anything. I like the nut and parsley mixture because it is pretty more than any other reason.Many like to use pecan or almond slivers t coat the outside, I tend to like walnut because they are cheaper. Depending on what I have used on the inside of my cheese ball I change up my coating, sometimes its herbs of various sorts with bread crumbs or crackers and sometimes it is nuts with herbs. It really just depends on what I have and what my taste buds say..

basic recipe

2- 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 pack onion soup mix
4 oz chopped meat of choice
dash hot sauce
nuts or spices

soften cream cheese. Add meat, hot sauce and soup mix and mix completely. Refrigerate about 1 hour then roll in either chopped nuts or parsley nut mixture. Wrap and chill several hours to several days before serving. With just two of us here, I make 2 balls instead of one.

I also quite enjoy dessert or fruited cheese balls. Pineapple and strawberries are my favorite flavor. Some people like to add green or red pepper bits or pieces of jalapenos or even green onions. I prefer to make them simple and with just the fruit and nuts.

Basic recipe

2-8 oz packages cream cheese
8 oz of fruit chopped and drained
1 tbsp powder sugar
1 tsp season salt
1 cup nuts chopped fine

Soften cheese. Mix fruit, cheese, sugar and 1/2 cup nuts. Refrigerate one hour and form in to ball and roll in chopped nuts and wrap

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

maps, guides and charts for planting

Here are several maps that I use and recommend others use to check for first and last frost, hardiness zones and other neat things. Remember these are just a guide and please don't blame me for dead gardens.

plant hardiness zone map

find your zone by zip code

heat zone map with how to use instructions

Canada hardiness zone map

Europe hardiness zone map

Australia hardiness zone map

average fall frost dates US and Canada

last spring frost map for US and Canada

Something else to think about when it comes to planting beside hardiness zones and frost dates is soil temperature. I often go by this rather than the freeze dates. It does require you keep a careful eye on frost dates but over all this method seems to make more sense than the others.

soil temperature chart

another chart

Still another thing to take in to consideration is the lunar phase and some even take zodiac signs in to consideration. I try to use the moon phases here but I have noticed that often times our window to get things in the ground closes or opens during the non optimal moon phase. No matter it is still interesting and is neat to look at.

moon phases

zodiac signs

lunar planting

things to consider when building or buying your homestead

Many of us already homestead or at some point would like to homestead in the future. Often times it seems that we think we need more land than what we have available to us and fore go the thoughts of ever being able to succeed at it because of the availability of useful terrain. I say no matter how small a plot you have to work with , you can do something in the way of raising your own fruits and vegetables and with very small amounts of land you can also raise some of your other foods, particularly meat. With a little bit of planning; gardens, compost and animals can all be combined together to make a circle of life so to speak on even some of the smallest pieces of land.


Being part of the solution and not the problem means there are certain steps that should be taken before acquiring any farm animal. Here is a brief synopsis of each of the steps that must come first and foremost before even thinking about raising animals.

Identify your natural resources. Find out what amount of acreage you have available to you. Look at climate and elevations. Identify the types of soil and the vegetation on the land, look at the erosion of the area in its natural state . What is the availability or both drinking and irrigation water. Identify potential problems now, so that you can make the necessary steps before they arise. By doing this it will help you to decide; what types of animals you can raise without modifications as well as with. It will show you how many animals your piece of land can accommodate as well as many management techniques that you may or may not have to employ in order to keep your animals and property safe and well maintained.

For those of us with less than an acre, anything larger than a guinea hen is most likely out of the question. The animals you are able to have, will need feed, shelter and protection from predators. Small animals means smaller amounts of waste and a compost pile in the back yard would do for your manure management practices.

When we have two or three acres to work with, our animal raising capabilities rise immensely. In addition to the small stock, you can also go into small ruminants ( meaning goats, sheep etc). Again, most feed will have to be provided to the animals and they will require a pasture or fenced in area for them to graze about in. Predator protection is still needed as well as cover from extreme weather conditions. Manure management with small ruminants is still pretty easy since there excrement is in pelleted form and makes great compost material.

Moving on up into the five acre range, our options for livestock also become larger . A single cow or horse is not out of the question . A hog can be raised , as well as a single or pair of burros or llamas, alpacas along with the smaller animals mentioned above. This amount of land is still not enough to maintain animals solely off of the land. All aforementioned steps are still needed and feed costs do become a a factor when we move into the larger animals. manure management practices also have to be amended and taken into consideration. The small back yard compost heap is now a mtn and it becomes a necessary step to actually have a manure heap in its very own place on the land.

With ten acres or more of land, the opportunities for raising most any farm animal is there. Of course the more land you have the more grazing animals can do and the less they have to be supplemented with feed. Guardian animals become a good means of protecting from predators and your manure pile keeps on growing. The larger the animals you choose the less of them you can raise. Cows , if fed only grazed grasses need about 25 - 30 acres of good pasture land per head of animal. keep in mind as well most animals do better in pairs , most are herd animals and do not well on there own .

Elevation levels will dictate what vegetation can and will grow on your property. The higher up you go , the less vegetation there will be . Different animals prefer different types of vegetation. How much work is it going to be to turn the over grown brush into pasture? Think about what your elevation levels are as well as the weather conditions in your area. Some conditions are not suited to some animals.Will yo be able to provide housing or shelter for the animals in these conditions? Have a look see at the slope and overall lay out of the land.Some of our four legged friends do not do well on steep terrain while others thrive, just as all humans don't enjoy mtn climbing, neither do all animals.

Walk outside in the rain sometime and look at the run off of the land. Where water runs , manure will run. Look at where the water runs too, where is it going? Find out where run off is naturally,where does it end up, polluting our water sources can be a huge issue,not only health wise but monetarily as well. Keep in mind that animals also cause new run off areas in the land, they tend to blaze trails (soil compaction) where they make the same loops in pastures daily...thereby causing new runoffs and sedimentation .Buffer zones between waterways and animals are wonderful in keeping the pollution problems down as well as giving natural wildlife new habitat areas.

Find out what sources of water are available on the piece of land.Animals need fresh clean water and plenty of it. Is there a well that you will be using? If so , can it handle the animals needs as well as your own? Is there natural water on the property? Does this water go to supply anyone else water ? Is that water safe for an animal to drink or does it contain pathogens in it not suited for consumption. If there is not enough water available naturally , how will you come up with enough water to supply your livestock? Will you have to carry water to the animals or is there a means to get it for them near where they are housed? Again, keep in mind the bigger you go, the more water they drink . It is pretty typical for a cow to drink upwards of 35 gallons of water on an 85 degree day, where a chicken or rabbit may drink a quart . Carrying 35 gallons of water 500 foot every day is not fun.

Assuming that most of us have less than 20 acres of land to work with. Many of us have much less to work with.Start to plot out your homestead on a large piece of paper. If you have a yard, plot it out , no matter how small you think it is. If you don't, have a yard at all , come up with an idea of what it is you would like.( Keep in mind almost no property has everything wonderful and perfectly set up to just move you n your barnyard friends in without some sort of modifications. I know we all dream of finding a perfect plot with flat open spaces, well groomed fences and barns with rolling hills and plenty of water sources etc...they are out there but few and far between. If there is a house or outbuildings sketch them and any fencing in. If you have outside water sources, be sure to mark them. Pay attention to run off areas, show where they are... This is just for a general idea of what you have to work with, so that over the course of making your plans you can decide what beast is best for you and your homestead . If you don't already have a compost heap or bin started, think about where you could strategically locate one. (a good rule of thumb on compost is, between animal and garden areas, but out of the way). Begin to get an idea of possible locations for animal housing and fencing. (It is nice to be able to see your animals from a window or door in the house if possible, just for keeping an eye on them.) When done , keep your map handy so that you made add to it as you plo , plan and scheme your homestead no matter what the size.

A snippet from a friend who had this to say when we were talking of this the other day..
Water is a huge consideration in any livestock enterprise.
Wells are expensive to bore, and water line must be installed below frostline ... digging the trench is also expensive.
Some animals need more than others
... an adult horse or a milk cow consumes many gallons per day, and this is something you cannot skimp on.
A dehydrated animal is a sick and dying animal.

Ponds can dry up and springs can stop running during dry summers.
Also, in the summer, you will get scum growing on the water and on the bottom and along the sides of the stock tank. You will need to empty and dry out tanks and waterers (sun will kill lots of what's growing there) and occasionally scrub with a bleach solution to keep the water fresh.

Remember that water will freeze in the winter, and when it freezes it will ruin whatever it is in. If you leave a hose out overnight, it will be useless in the morning ... at best you will have to bring it in to thaw, and at the worst it will split and be ruined. A stock tank full of ice is just another thing to deal with ... it is of no use to the stock.

In short ... I think the first thing to do when planning a livestock enterprise is to secure the supply of fresh water.

Bottom line, if someone is going to get livestock they should REALLY learn as much as they can about the animals they are interested in first, and be as prepared for them as possible first. Know something about the animals you want to keep!They all have different "ways" and different personalities. Some are a lot easier than others. Some require tons of work, special fencing or housing. Some can just live nicely with a tarp for shelter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the greenhouse

We built our greenhouse here several years back. While most of it was made with new materials we did use the squirrel fan and a box fan from an old broken down gh. The wood was new as was all the plastic and pvc. When we built it the new materials cost us about 300 dollars although the price included enough plastic to completely recover the gh with two layers two more times. This project took us one day from start to finish.

Here is a basic photo tour of the gh. Please excuse the clutter. We could really use one about 2x the size. These pics were all taken today rather than as we built it..

If you notice in the pictures, there is a place for a squirrel cage fan. It is used to inflate the layers of plastic, giving it more insulation etc. Ours broke, they are about 75 dollars to replace. We dont have the money to replace it and heck I have been without it so long now, I know it isnt necessary. We also used simple box frame fan for ventilation. With the fan , the door open and the shade cloth we can grow all summer long. You may also see the wood stove in our gh. It worked well but through the year we have figured out that buy using crop cover cloths and mini hoop or frame houses with in the gh it is near as effective and saves a lot of hassle. We no longer use the stove and will be pulling it out soon to make room for a raised bed area.

My advice for a greenhouse is make it operate how you want it to. What works for one may not work for you. Experiment and see just what you can grow in there without having to have all the fancy stuff. If you want to try something new and see if it works go for it. More often then not you can find a way to make it do what you want. You are gaining experience in the process even if you fail, all you have lost is some time and a few seeds. The knowledge you gain will be priceless.

We use the gh pretty much year round. During the winter months, I grow early spring or fall crops. Right now I have turnips, greens,lettuce, mint, thyme, oregano, peas, gr onions, carrots and other salad fixins that we are harvesting from. During the spring and fall months I grow much of our lettuce in there because it has less bug issues than outside. Early spring I use it to harden of plantlings before transfer into gardens. Summer time I tend to throw experimental crops in there just to see if they will grow in the extreme heat(I shut off the fan ). More often than not whatever I plant in there thrives during the summer. The only time I have to worry about any death in the greenhouse is from the end of December til the end of January. By that time I am ready for a break before the spring rush begins and I dont care if it all dies off.

The gh measures 12x16 feet. The ends are framed with 2x4's, the base of the sides are made from 1x4's and the main beam down the center is 4x4.As you can see in the attached pictures, the rest of the frame is made with pvc. (I think the pvc is 1 1/2 in.) At the base of the frame we have u shaped clamps screwed in to hold the pvc to the 1x4's. Where the pvc crosses we used duct tape and then used insulated pipe wrap so make a cushion for the plastic layers. We attached the end layer of plastic separately from the sides and top. To attach the side layers of plastic we used the fabric, duct strap or sewer strap they use these days. we laid the two layers of plastic placed the strap over and stapled.

When you build a green house one of the important things to think about is placement.
If possible, locate the greenhouse where it will be exposed to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the winter months. The best orientation is to position the greenhouse with its length running east and west. This will provide more heat gain from the sun during the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky.

Another thing to keep in mind is wind exposure. If you live in an area that is prone to high winds, think about placing it so that an end wall can be built of solid panels on the windward side. Remember too that often times it isn't so much the wind causing the damage but your materials for building the gh were too light for the job. A bit of over kill on the frame is going to prevent a lot of damage. If the frame doesn't hold up nothing will.

Make sure you use gh UV rated plastic. It is expensive but it is well worth it. We have not yet replaced any layers on the gh here. This will be our fifth season with it and barring anything unforeseen it should last at least through this season.

my thoughts on square foot gardening

Square Foot Gardening is a technique of intensive planting developed by a retired civil engineer, Mel Bartholomew, in the 1970's. Mel describes the technique in his book, Square Foot Gardening, as "a system of laying out, planting, and maintaining a productive, attractive garden in any amount of space. The garden is based on a grid of 1-foot by 1-foot squares, with single seeds or plants placed in carefully determined spacings." Mel goes on to say, "The square foot system lets you make the most of your garden space to conserve the amount of water, soil conditioners, and labor needed to produce a maximum amount of food in that space. A square foot garden takes only one-fifth the space and work of a conventional single-row garden to produce the same harvest."

Intro to square foot gardening

The idea behind square foot gardening is that you can plant fruits, vegetables and flowers in raised beds, above infertile soil and even out of the reach of pets. Seeds are planted in 1x1 square foot plots, and when harvested a new plant is installed in the square. Plants are watered a specific amount each day in measured quantities so it is great for areas where water issues abound. Raised beds can sit directly on the ground or include a bottom layer and be placed on patios, decks or porches. These beds can also be made on raised tables to accommodate bad, backs, wheel chairs and old people that are falling a part. It makes for easy weeding (ain't many weeds), easy watering and and easy picking of produce. I dont care for this method for big n bushy plants. For small gardens I think it is great, when producing all your food stocks for the year it is in my opinion not optimal. Although watering seems simple , it can also become quite the chore, especially in dry climates. The beds leech water so well that the plants can and will dry up and die quicker than you can blink.

I really enjoy using this method for the smaller plants. Beans are great, radishes, lettuces, spinach, peppers, onions, broccoli ,cauliflower, beets, turnips etc are great in them. Tomatoes , squash,,okra, corn, tomatoes n sweet taters are examples of plants that I dont care for growing in the sfg beds.

While I enjoy the methods of SFG's, I don't enjoy the prices of making the soil mix that Mel specifies in his books or on his site. After all, just as in a forum, movie or book he is out to sell something to his readers. In this case it is all the components that go in to his "mix" for planting. For me, it makes for a too expensive garden. I instead mix what I can afford and what we can make from here on the land. I then make my own mix. It is not the mix he suggests but is something similar and I can still use the basic principles in growing.

I do not like the fact that he pushes such specific ingredients for the soil and gives people the notion that unless they do and build and buy buy buy all he suggests that you are not sq foot gardening. I agree that it is a specific method but I don't feel that because you built your sfg bed out of scrap or made your own soil it isn't sf gardening . What makes it "special " is the intense planting and harvesting.

I dare say, that intensive gardening is more the key word in all of this. One doesnt need a special soil mixture. Soil mixtures can be made at home from sustainable sources rather than buying soil mixes. We dont need to buy little plastic grids to be able to plot a bed in to 1x1 squares. String and a tape measure work very well for such things. We do not need to go out and spend hard earned money on materials to make a special bed. A garden can be made out of anything. If it can hold soil and has drainage of some sort, in my world it is a gardening vessel.

The bottom line in all this is that we don't have to follow any one way of gardening, nor should we. Gardens should be as individual as we all are while taking bits n pieces of what we see, read and learn every day and incorporate it into,something that works for us. Don't fall into the trap that things must be done a certain way, it just aint so. I have seen many people lose the gardening bug after trying to follow one specific method of growing, it not working the way they thought it should and giving up. The goal here is to get everyone a garden that works for them not making money off the teaching of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

sourdough breads n such

A couple years back I decided I was done paying for crappy bread from the supermarket and done paying the ever rising prices. This meant I needed to start baking our own breads. I chose to go with the sour dough bread starters for a couple reasons. The first of which is not ever needing yeast. I like the thought of always having the base mix to anything on hand in a pinch and I like that the starter can also be froze for later use if needed, and it doesnt have to be refrigerated if used often enough. I also like that i can use the starter mix for more than simply bread, ( pancakes , rolls , bagels, crackers, pretzels etc).

Now I must say it took me a few months to get the basics of the dough down. The first few attempts were awful. Just remember if it's a flop and you wind up with a frisbee, hockey puck or a nice door stop they can be ground up and used as bread crumbs so it isnt a complete waste and it doesnt make the failures seem anywhere near as bad either.

To make the basic starter

Blend a cup of warm water and a cup of flour(not self rising), and pour it into a jar.

* Every 24 Hours, Feed the Starter. You should keep the starter in a warm place; 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect. This allows the yeast already present in the flour (and in the air) to grow rapidly. Temperatures hotter than 100 degrees or so will kill it. .

The way you feed the starter is to throw away half of it and then add a half-cup of flour and a half-cup of water. (Don't actually throw the starter away, save it and make pancakes with the throw away starter.) Do this every 24 hours. Within three or four days (it can take longer, a week or more, and it can happen more quickly) you should start getting lots of bubbles throughout, and a pleasant sour or beery smell. The starter may start to puff up, too. This is good. Here's the gist: When your starter develops a bubbly froth, it is done. You have succeeded. If this sounds brain-dead simple, that's because it is. People who didn't believe the Earth was round did this for millenia.

* Refrigerate the Starter. Keep the starter in your fridge, with a lid on it. Allow a little breathing space in the lid. If you're using a mayo or pickle jar, punch a hole in the lit with a nail, that kind of thing. Once the starter is chilled, it needs to be fed only once a week. Realistically, you can get away with lessevery 3-4 weeks; it's important to remember that your starter is a colony of life-forms that are almost impossible to kill (except with extreme heat). Even starving them is difficult.

Care and Feeding: Hooch

Aside from weekly feeding, the only other thing you need to worry about is hooch. Hooch is a layer of watery liquid (often dark) that contains alchohol. It smells a bit like beer, because it is a bit like beer - but don't drink it! Hooch builds up in your starter, especially in the fridge. Just pour it off or stir it back in. It doesn't hurt anything. If your starter is looking dry, stir it back in. If your starter is plenty wet, pour it off. Just remember that hooch is nothing to worry about

Sourdough Baking Step One: Proofing the Sponge

Several hours before you plan to make your dough (recipe below), you need to make a sponge. A "sponge" is just another word for a bowl of warm, fermented batter. This is how you make your sponge.

* Take your starter out of the fridge. Pour it into a large glass or plastic bowl. Meanwhile, wash the jar and dry it. You may also wish to pour boiling water over it, since you don't want other things growing in there with your pet!

* Add a cup of warm water and a cup of flour to the bowl. Stir well, and set it in a warm place for several hours. This is called "proofing," another word for fermenting. Sourdough bakers have their own language; use it to impress your friends

* Watch for Froth and and Sniff. When your sponge is bubbly and has a white froth, and it smells a little sour, it is ready. The longer you let the sponge sit, the more sour flavor you will get.

The proofing-time varies. Some starters can proof up to frothiness in an hour or two. Some take 6-8 hours, or even longer. Just experiment and see how long yours takes. If you're going to bake in the morning, set your sponge out to proof overnight.

Sourdough Baking Step Two: The Actual basic Recipe

* 2 Cups of sponge (proofed starter)
* 3 Cups of unbleached flour
* 2 tablespoons of olive oil or softened margarine
* 4 teaspoons of sugar
* 2 teaspoons of salt

First, let's talk about leftover sponge. You should have some. The leftover sponge is your starter for next time: Put it into the jar, and give it a fresh feed of a half-cup each of flour and warm water. Keep it in the fridge as above; you'll have starter again next time.

Now, for the recipe: To the sponge, add the sugar, salt, and oil (the oil is optional - you can use softened butter instead, or no oil at all). Mix well, then knead in the flour a half-cup at a time. Knead in enough flour to make a good, flexible bread dough. You can do this with an electric mixer, a bread machine on "dough cycle," or a food processor. You can also do it with a big bowl and your bare hands.

Keep in mind that flour amounts are approximate; flour varies in absorbency, and your sponge can vary in wetness. Use your judgement; treat it like ordinary white or french bread dough.

Let the dough rise in a warm place, in a bowl covered loosely with a towel (if you're using a bread machine's dough cycle, let it rise in the machine). Note that sourdough rises more slowly than yeast bread; my starter takes about an hour or so, but some starters take much longer. Let the dough double in bulk, just like yeast-bread dough. When a finger poked into the top of the dough creates a pit that doesn't "heal" (spring back), you've got a risen dough.

Punch the dough down and knead it a little more. Make a loaf and place it on a baking sheet (lightly greased or sprinkled with cornmeal). Slit the top if you like, and cover the loaf with a paper towel and place it in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in bulk.

Place the pan with the loaf in your oven, and then turn your oven to 350 Fahrenheit and bake the bread for 30-45 minutes. Do not preheat the oven. The loaf is done when the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack or a towel and let it cool for an hour before slicing.

For those that learn better visually there is Follow the sour dough , a series of videos on you tube

Here is the link to the site that has a printable booklet on sd... I have made all the recipes in it and I come up with my own recipes using the basic mixes as my starters for whatever it is i am making. I have never been unhappy with a recipe from here.

Here are a couple recipes of sour dough pancakes I have used before . I could give you the one I follow normally but i dont measure anything so it would be very difficult. Just play with the basic recipes and you will come up with one you like.

bunny hotel

One thing we failed to realize when we first began breeding rabbits for meat was how many cages the little darlings would need while growing to the kill stage. Why no book ever mentions this is beyond me as it was one of the first things I figured out and I am pretty slow. Another thing I learned quickly was that having more than a few bunnies in a typical 2 foot cage, even as babies is just not right and borders upon inhumane, at least in my eyes.

Another thing we learned was bunnies chew things and they can chew their way out of things quite quickly. In fact they chew so quickly that one bored day of the dears gnawing away and they can indeed spring them selves from a wood based cage. I have no clue why when you google rabbit hutches they show beautiful wooden structures. They surely will not keep the cute fur balls contained for very long.

As I have previously written, we have a herd of 9 bunnies running rogue in with the hens. Much as I enjoy watching them living warren style in the coop roaming freely, the darlings also dig. They dig every bit as well as they can chew. I know this because the very first day we had released our breeder bunnies in their new home to run free, they escaped in 20 minutes flat. Out and under the fencing with 12 inch rods going in the ground every few inches. Lucky for us the breeders had never known freedom in any way so they simply stood there waiting for us to rescue them. Having the babies out running is cute and all but it is a matter of time before they figure out that freedom or death is just under that fence.

We decided when the babies ate their way out of their home, that we indeed were going to have to build new hutches for the bunnies and this time do it proper.

Manthing was able to go out and build the new bunny hotel today. This will be where we can put an entire litter of bunnies in one area. The cage is 6 foot long so will be plenty large to house them all. The bad bunnies out running with the hens will be the first to try it out, but only until i have them captured so we can have a butcher day.

We are going to build another cage next to this one that is only half the size. We just ran out of time today to get it done too.

The cage was built in the chicken coop. we only have a few hens so we are not worried about sickness by having the two together. The top of the bunny cage is solid so that if the hens do climb up above it and poop it will not be landing on the bunnies. Under the cage for the moment we will allow the bunny poop to land and I will clean it out when we clean the chicken coop come spring. This spring we will be setting up a large worm bin under the cages to collect the droppings and for smell control. The door is across the entire top rather than in the front for room purposes. We will put a hook and eye for the top rather than propping it with a stick. This way we can herd the bunnies to one end of the cage come butcher day and make the cage smaller with a divider as we go . It is also built tall enough that they cant jump out.

Here is the photo journal of the bunnies and their new home.

monday's mountain musings

More drizzly drooly weather here in the mtns but still no real cold for any length of time. We had 2 nights in low 20s and everything has seemed to pull thru it with no trouble. Next week is when I normally pull the plug on any gardening outside for a month or so for our coldest part of the winter. It will be interesting to see how long the gh plants hold out with the row covers and mini hot houses in there. Day time temps are still generally going up in to the 50's so other than all the wet weather we really can't complain too much .

We have had two official nights of quiet, WOOT! No gnawing, no chewing, nothing walking on the roof in the night, it has been wonderful. No smell of rotting bodies either so that' s a bonus thus far. Will pick up another round of poison when we go to town in a couple days as we have a meeting. Town twice in one week, how unusual, how horrible.

I have started a photo journal of my wood stove cooking. Have a look through them and enjoy.