Homestead Update: What’s New and Formal Rabbitry Introduction

Well, we certainly had a very busy holiday season.

My husband’s family came in for a visit. We had so much good conversation, sooooo much good food, and we got a lot of project loose ends tied up before cold weather hits. Speaking of cold weather, that romantic image I had in my head of roasting walnuts over an open fire (we didn’t have a chestnut harvest this year) and heating mulled cider didn’t so much pan out with it being near 70 degrees F outside. We opted not to heat the house to a balmy 90 degrees.

Instead, we picnicked on Tuesday afternoon, and spent the day Wednesday finishing up some of our REALLY last minute barn projects.

The first thing to get our attention out of necessity was some maintenance on our hoop coop. The door had never really been square, and it got stuck shut after the wood swelled in the rain and unseasonable heat, and the hardware cloth screen on the door came loose as our staples gave way. We (and by we, I mean my father-in-law) fixed the sticking door, and my husband used some heavy duty fencing staples to reattach the screen.

Our chickens fortunately hadn’t attempted to escape, so good on them. But they are once again secure. The guys also moved the coop so that the ground that had become mud soup could dry out and the chickens could have a new area for scratching.

2nd project completed was the rabbit roof!! Technically speaking, its more of an awning, or series of awnings. But it is functional! and it looks nice and neat, and it cut my rabbit feeding time down by half.

No more lifting asphalt roofing panels, balancing them on my head while I undo latches/scoop food/fill water dishes. I can go efficiently down the line and feed and water each rabbit without even having to necessarily open their cages. It is marvelous! Merry Christmas to me! Which means, I can now do a proper introduction to our rabbitry. Meet our silver fox bunnies!

De Colores Chip
De Colores Pickett
FurFoxy Helmer
De Colores Heather
De Colores Abigal

3rd project, that was one my husband was eager to complete, was to build a hay loft in the goat barn.

hay loft

Our future plans for the current barn include designating it as our livestock feed storage area/ milking parlor/ separation area for mamas and babies, or whatever utilitarian purpose that comes up along the way. And for our pasture goat shelter, we are building a larger version of the hoop coop for the goats to sleep in at night. Because Tumnus is a wether, we don’t need him separated from our does for the time being, so we have at least a year to build a buck shelter for him and his future alpha buck. So the plan is to move the hoop shelter to a central location in our “pasture” (kudzu field) that can be incorporated into our rotational grazing paddock system, and use the current barn for milking/food storage. In any case, I appreciate not having to carry hay from our garage all the way out to the manger in the barn. SOOO much less hay in my boots and on the floor. And I’m convinced that my pitchfork is my most favorite tool of the year.

We got the does bred earlier in December. We expect their kids in the middle of May, which is about the same time frame as last year, although, Miss Luna went about a month past her April due date. So, we’ll see. We won’t know for sure if breeding was successful until the does start to show more signs of pregnancy, but being more familiar with the artificial insemination process this year, we are hopeful for a greater percentage of success this time. Honey and I were hanging out the other day and I’m watching her behavior to note any changes that may indicate pregnancy. Right now, she’s gone from fairly aggressive to pretty snuggly, so maybe? We’ll see.

Honey being snuggly

Inside the house, the guys got the remainder of the hallway flooring laid down from the project that stalled earlier this summer. It is nice to have a level walking surface, especially as my burgeoning belly continues to throw off my balance and equilibrium. I’m one of those unbelievably, comically clumsy pregnant women, so I GREATLY appreciate fewer tripping hazards. Now if the kids would keep their hot-wheels picked up, we’d be in good shape.

I’m preparing myself to get cracking on all the indoor painting. I’d like to finish up the girls’ bedroom, and the boys’ bedroom/playroom. The girls really have a fondness for the classic cottage/antique style decor, which I also love. In fact, I might encourage their tastes to move in that direction, though I compromise with their desire for rainbows and shiny things…just not painted on the walls.

For the boys’ room, I’ve promised them a chalk board space on the wall, as well as clearing out the old broken chest of drawers. They’re doing well with the minimalist clothing storage, and their closet has remained tidy for the most part! Less is more. And far easier for them to manage.

tidy bedroom closet

The master bathroom is ready for its coat of paint, and then I can lay the new flooring.

I’m pondering new vanity shelves from some pallet wood we have in the basement. I know it’s something my husband could put together in a couple hours, so I may see if he has some free time if he wouldn’t mind whipping that up for me.

And in the mean time, I’m decluttering everything to ring in the new year with less mess and debris, both in my home, as well as my mind and spiritual life. We certainly had a whirlwind of a year. We’ve learned from mistakes, and grown through suffering, and generally tried to bounce back after a lot of things failed to go as planned. But that is life, any and every year, right? Some years’ struggles are just harder than others. God was faithful through it all, and we trust Him to continue His legacy of faithfulness in caring for and providing for our family.

I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content– whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13, HCSB

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