It’s been a week of unexpected progress at the Knob house. Unseasonably warm weather has jump started our sense of spring and has catapulted us into homestead project mode. I’ve been exhilarated about all the excuses to be outside and I’m excited about everything that has gotten done…and also a little overwhelmed with the number of new projects the two of us are diving headfirst into. Some projects haven’t gotten as far as others. The greenhouse hasn’t been touched yet mostly because I spend a good portion of my spare time trying to adopt every new dog I find on Craigslist. (I’ll find you a friend yet, Wendell!) But even with that massive time waster, we’ve still gotten a ton done.
So let spring come.
Garden Inspiration from the Greater Community
Over the past week my green thumb has been put through its paces. Part of my AmeriCorps service time is spent working in the agriculture department of a local high school, and the school’s greenhouse in a jungle of green right now as tomato plants begin to top the roof bars and flowers bud in every corner. The small space is crammed with vibrancy, and the earthy musk that permeates throughout is an inviting escape from the stale classroom air. Soon the tomatoes will ripen, the flowers will bloom, and the aphids will be gobbled up by the newly introduced ladybugs. I took advantage of some bushy basil plants and gave them a much needed trim. Soon I’ll turn these cuttings into pesto for my students to taste. I almost hope they hate it so I can take more leftovers home!
There was also a wonderful seed swapping event one town over this week. It was an opportunity for people passionate about sustainable living to get together and talk about our mutual love of plants and our dreams for this coming season. I’d already bought most of the seeds I want to plant this year, but I did pick up some special items like Paw Paw tree seeds. It was also a chance for Ian and I to finally meet in person some of the people we have been connecting with online from this community but haven’t been able to actually meet yet. I’m always thrilled to meet people in this new home of mine that care about and love the same things I do.
I left the event so inspired that the next day I rescued seedlings from the school greenhouse and planted them into our sturdy cold frame. Time will tell if the young plants survive the inclement weather this weekend, but if things get too bad we can always put a blanket over the frame.
Expanding the Menagerie with Our Own Meat Rabbits
The seed swapping conference had an additional benefit; it gave us an excuse to drive near some big box department stores, definitely not a normal occurrence in our lives out here. We’ve been talking about getting meat rabbits for weeks, but neither of us has found the motivation to build cages. Actually the idea of working with the sharp, somewhat rusty wire we had set aside for the project filled me with stress. It was practically the last way I wanted to spend precious daylight hours after work. Ian seemed about as eager as me to avoid the task, and building cages became an almost taboo subject between us. But then we wandered into a Tractor Supply. And found ourselves in an aisle filled with rabbit cages. Pre-made cages. We looked at each other and smiled the slow smiles that gave each other permission to cheat just this once. Sure we COULD build cages ourselves, but there are more pleasant ways to spend my time… like playing with baby bunnies. Sue me for taking a shortcut.
In any case we walked out of the store with everything necessary to support two does and a buck; the beginning of our anticipated rabbit breeding setup. Now we just needed some bunnies. Surprisingly enough, this proved to be the easiest part of the whole process. The teacher Ian aids has a homesteading brother with an every expanding herd of rabbits he was more than willing to sell off. So after school on Wednesday we drove up his holler and exchanged $30 for three four week old New Zealand Whites.
The bunnies should be old enough to be bred early June. By Fall I anticipate I’ll be as skilled at butchering them as Gollum.
(Yes Ian told me about this clip. So what?! I have pop culture knowledge tooooo…)
BONUS PET! The Big Daddy Rooster
Our bunny provider really must have known the way to my heart, because he threw a free chicken into the deal! A big black orphington rooster, to be exact. These boys are known to be the gentle giants of the rooster world and we were reasonably sure he would get along fine with our hens, so I didn’t see any harm in taking him. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be the key to not having to mail order chicks in a few weeks.
On a sadder note, we seem to have had our first livestock fatality. Of our four guinea fowl, there has always been one that seemed especially idiotic and consistently strayed from the larger group. It appears now that she must not have gotten locked back into the coop one night and either took off or got on something’s menu. I’m adamant that she will be back (mostly out of guilt that she disappeared on one of my counting nights) but Ian’s given her up for lost. More will be revealed I guess.
Shared with Homesteading on Grace