“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus

I wanted to talk about the market that we attended last week.  Kitty had a stall there, like she did last year, yet we were located in a different position and she was selling different wares.  Last year, Kitty was selling clothes, bags of lollies, Gingerbread biscuits, and a “lucky dip”.

This year we reduced the items for sale a little, to Bags of Lollies (packed in special Christmas bags and boxes… they looked very nice in my opinion), Kitty’s clothes, and my youngest son took a couple of boxes of Pokemon cards to sell (He made quite a bit of money which, considering I bought the Pokemon cards, was great for him).

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We learnt many things from last year’s market and tried to put them into effect for this year.

  • We didn’t have highly perishable food items
  • Kitty didn’t make/sell any Gingerbread biscuits
  • We stayed around so that we were one of the last stalls to pack up.

 

These helped us and I feel that staying around was a good idea, as well as not having highly perishable items for sale… yet we also made some errors.

We didn’t get a great position.  Last year we had a great spot in the middle of the market.  Everyone came by the stall and we had a lot of business.  This year we grabbed a spot on the outskirts… which initially seemed great, yet it turned out that we had very few traffic.  With reduce traffic we had less sales.  Next year we need to sort this out and find the ideal position.

Kitty didn’t make any gingerbread biscuits this year… I think we should have done this as we may have made more money from their sales.

I took my three rabbits along to sell.  This was a bit of a mistake.  I had a lot of interest, many people came by to pat them and talk to me about how much they loved Rabbits, yet no one bought any of them.  I feel that Rabbits are not really a thing most people would buy on impulse at a market.  People need to prepare for owning a Rabbit, they don’t seem to buy them without thought.  I think if I had some cards to hand out, I may have made some after market sales,  yet I did not have any prepared.  In addition, I feel that if I had some hutches or cages for sale, I may have been able to sell a couple, yet I didn’t have any of these.  I will have to reconsider the best way to approach this for the next market.

I did have many people asking if I had any chickens or chicks for sale…. They would have been a much better animal to sell at the market.  I will prepare next time and have chickens and chicks prepared to sell.  This shouldn’t be too hard to sort out.

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“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach

We are no longer a family without a dog… Errol arrived today!  We are so happy to have another dog.  I never realised how much we have become accustomed to the companionship and company that a dog provides.  I have missed the un-waiving love and loyalty that they give.  Well, no more, we now have a dog.  Errol is still a little shy, as he is getting to know us.  I also suspect that he misses his old family, as he seems a little sad at times.  He is used to a house with a dozen dogs, yet here, it is just him.

He is a little too curious about all the animals we have here.  He is getting along with our cat Ziggy, he has looked at the neighbors sheep, yet not worried about them.  He is a bit too interested in the chickens, yet he hasn’t done much but make them run away from him.  The rabbits… they are a bit of a different matter.   I have had to tell him off many times for trying to break into the rabbit hutches.  I am going to have to reinforce them to make it harder for him to get in to them.  He is also stressing them out by trying to get to them.  I don’t think he means anything, he is just curious.

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Ziggy is not amused.

We also have a new Rabbit addition to the family.  She is a Blue British Giant, she is very young, yet she looks great already.  She is actually an early gift for my son, for his birthday, yet we will breed her with Rodger (our male rabbit) to try to get some interesting coloured kits.  The person who breeds the British Giants that I buy is getting out of the business, so this may be the last one I buy for a long time.

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She doesn’t have an official name yet, although I understand it may be soon decided.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

On Saturday I placed a dozen eggs in the incubator, after completing my tests and observations.  I am pretty happy with the set up, so I feel that I might have a good chance for the eggs to hatch with some healthy chickens.

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I mentioned that my hens had been collecting their eggs, and I was hopeful that they would hatch some themselves.  I have been watching my hens, to try to see who had been sitting on the eggs.  It seems that neither of them were preforming this duty.  They were simply laying the eggs in a huge pile, and leaving them.  They were even letting some of the eggs roll off the heap and not bothering to gather them back together!  So careless of them!  I decided that I would take the eggs off them, both to complete the amount of eggs I had up to a dozen, and also so I had some for Sunday Breakfast.

 

 

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My bunnies are really growing up fast.  You can see in the above picture (and the below video) that they are already eating solids.  The brown and white ones are very friendly, they love the be patted and scratched behind their ears.  The honey coloured one is still a little shy.  I took a video of them this evening, you can hear the rain falling while I filmed them.

 

 

 

“Doubt the conventional wisdom unless you can verify it with reason and experiment.” – Steve Albini

I have a bit of a problem.  I have various liquids that I can add to my plants to help them grow, such as:

  • Seasol
  • Compost Tea
  • Worm Tea
  • Water

The problem is, I don’t know which would be best.  I decided that I needed to run a little experiment to decide what would be the best to help my seeds grow into seedlings.  To do this, I took a seed that I know well… the Broad Bean.  This is a plant that I can grow very easily, so  I decided that this would be a good seed to use.  I then set out 6 different seedling punnets.  Into each I placed soil from the same source.  Then, after marking each container, I placed three seeds into the soil. I then positioned them on a shelf in my mini-greenhouse.

Why 6 punnets?  Well, I decided to use six different liquids.

  • Water (rain water)
  • Seasol mixed with tap water
  • Seaweed (a solution that I have been soaking for around three months) mixed with water
  • Compost Tea (some of my compost, mixed with tap water)
  • Worm Tea (Liquid made from Worm castings) mixed in water
  • Liquid run off from making my fodder (basically, whatever comes from the barley).

I will water them every second day, taking a picture each time.  Once they sprout, I will water them more regularly.

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Day 1 – Nothing much to see yet.

 

The Baby Bunnies are growing amazingly fast.  They have already opened their eyes and started to move around their hutch.  As I mentioned before, they have pelts of lovely colours, although I have to say that I really love the honey coloured one in the background of the below picture.  They are also starting to show their personality.  They brown one seems to like it when I scratch it’s back.  The white one is extremely neurotic, leaping around in terror if I touch it.  The honey one is a bit of an explorer, walking around the hutch.

Ginger is eating a lot more than normal.  Luckily I have been growing fodder to supplement the grain and grass that she eats.

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“Necessity may well be called the mother of invention but calamity is the test of integrity.” – Samuel Richardson

So I have been testing the incubator and I have received some mixed results.  I have actually had to check with the company that made the product so that I could be sure it is all in order.  During my tests I have had the incubator up to the suitable temperature (it does fluctuate a bit, but I think it is OK), yet the Humidity seems to be acting weird.

With no water within, it is registering a humidity of between 99-100%

With a a little water in the largest of the five water channels, it drops to between 78-80%.

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When I change things and only add water to the smallest channel, the humidity drops till it reaches 70%, then doesn’t go lower no matter how much water I add.

While I wait for a reply, I have decided to drop the eggs I have collected into the Incubator.  Might as well test that out too.

 

I have some awesome news… we have some new Bunnies on the Homestead.  Ginger has given birth, and Rodger is officially a father.  It has been a bit of a stressful time, waiting for her to give birth.  I had expected them to be born in 28 days, yet they surprised us by arriving in 33 days.  I am not sure if we have three or four babies… I don’t want to touch them and it is hard to count them without moving them.  I will wait till they come out of the nest by themselves.

We are all so happy with them. Kitty, the kids and I have been watching them whenever we get a chance.  They are so adorable, they haven’t yet opened their eyes, and they make little squeaking noises.  I am also really happy with the lovely looking pelts that have.

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it” – William Arthur Ward

I have been looking into the model of incubator that I wanted to buy for many months, weighing up my options and trying to make an informed decision.  Obviously, I wanted to get the best of the best, yet I am on a budget.  The product I wanted was a 48 egg incubator, with Auto turning features, Humidity display as well as a thermometer.  I wanted to buy one from the best producer I could find, something like a the Rcom 20.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford that, having spent the money I saved for the incubator on new tires.  So I have been looking into less expensive options.  This delay has caused me to postpone my breeding of my chickens, that will hopefully result in getting an excellent Rooster for showing.  As you know, several weeks ago I decided to put them Rooster in with the Chickens, so that he could begin fertalising their eggs.  My friend Ros, who is keen on raising chickens, has offered to place my eggs in her incubator.  I handed her 11 eggs the other day (which was all I managed to collect in a week), so hopefully it won’t be long till those hatch (21 days).

 

After I handed those eggs to Ros, I made a decision about how I should proceed.  I didn’t need to wait till I could find the perfect incubator, I was procrastinating on this point.  I really needed to make a move and just order an incubator.  Kitty has been selling some items on ebay and she surprised me by telling me that she would like to order the incubator with her profits.  I found several that were less expensive, yet they didn’t have all the features I desired.  Then, like a bolt from the blue, I found it.  One that was not too expensive, looked like it could do the job, had all the features I wanted, and was from a reliable seller.  I finally ordered my incubator.  I will let you all know how it turns out, it should arrive later this week.

 

I have been expecting my Rabbit, Ginger, to give birth to her babies any day now.  She bred with Rodger almost 28 days ago, and I am sure that her breed of rabbit (British Giant) gives birth after 28 days.  According to the following website, there should be a noticeable bulge on the rabbits stomach, and Ginger does seem to have a large stomach… yet I will be the first to admit that she is quite fat.  I guess I will have to just wait and see what happens.  Hopefully I will be able to report in my next post that we have some new baby additions to the homestead.  I am a little nervous though… as I post back in 2014, her last litter of bunnies all died the day they were born.  If this happens again, I think I might need to look into a whole new Mother rabbit.

 

 

“It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.” – Voltaire

It has been a little like Valentine’s Day her at the Little Tassie Prepper Homestead, with my chickens and rabbits trying to make babies (not with each other though… that would be weird).

I have kept our Rooster away from our Hens for a while now, waiting till I had an incubator to house the eggs.  This weekend I decided that I would put them together to see how they worked out.  As you can see from the video, it went quite well.  The hens were not perturbed by the Rooster, as you can see they didn’t really stop eating (although I doubt that they like him).  The Rooster put on a bit of a show, and acted a little weird, yet who could blame him.  I recall when I was young… meeting some pretty, young, girls for the first time.  I remember many an occasion where I acted quite the fool.

The day after I placed him in with the girls, he started to mate with them… so I will have to sort out my incubator issue soon.

 

 

Rodger, our little male Rabbit, has finally become a Man.. or a Buck… whatever.  He has mated with our female Rabbit, Ginger.  I have been waiting till he was old, and large enough, to mate with her.  She is a large girl, and he (being young) has been too small to stand up to her.  Rabbits are interesting in the way they mate, although it isn’t like I am an expert on animal mating, so perhaps they are typical.  The point I am trying to make is that my rabbits mated, so it shouldn’t be too long till we have some baby rabbits at the homestead.

To accomplish this I placed Rodger into a larger pen (the one which my Rooster has been living in, although he wasn’t there when this happened) and allowed him to run around. I then grabbed Ginger and dropped her in with him.  Immediately he was on to her, and she was interested.  They mated, taking around 3 seconds to complete, then her fell off her.  She ran away from him, he pursued, and she smacked him in the head a couple of times.  It seems that the female rabbits do  not like to cuddle.  Every time he managed to catch up with her, she would lay on her side, which seemed to make it impossible for him to mate with her.

After two minutes of his pursuit and her fleeing, she allowed him to mate with her again.  From this point on, she was not interested in him at all.  Every time he approached her she would smack him in the head, growl, and hide in the corner.  For Rodger, his big day was over.  Rodger started to exhibit different behaviour after this, he started stamping his feed into the ground (which apparently can mean he is frustrated, or that he is seeking attention), and he appeared to stand a little taller.  I believe that Rodger now sees himself as an adult Rabbit.

” It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

It has been many months in the making, yet I can now happily say that I have completed building my new Rabbit Hutch.  I have put off finishing it as i have had other projects, I couldn’t afford some of the materials that I needed, that I didn’t have to rush the job as I didn’t have a male rabbit to put into the structure.  Despite all this, I have finished it and I must say, I think it is my best attempt yet at a Rabbit Hutch.

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This hutch features a much stronger wire mesh, a more water proof design, as well as an addition to prevent the lid from falling back and damaging the hinges.  It is the heaviest one I have built, yet I think that I can manage the weight.

Speaking of doing things slowly, I was reminded this morning that I really should take the time to check the Road Weather Alerts before I leave the house.  I woke up extra early, and left for work around half an hour before I usually leave.  I wanted to take it slow on the drive in to be sure I didn’t have any issues with icy roads, considering the extra cold days we have had.  Five minutes after leaving my town, I was driving around 60km/h in a 100 zone, as the road was a bit curvy and I wanted to take it easy (I wasn’t in a rush).  The next thing I know, I had lost control of the car and was heading towards the left side of the road (which has a steep embankment), I immediately steered into the slide on the left till the wheels caught their grip again, as I had been trained to do.  I then had to turn to the right quickly or I would go off the road and into the valley.  Suddenly, my car spins to the right and does a 420 degree turn.  I spun all the way around and then ended up facing the right, 90 degrees to side.  While this was happening, a car was driving towards be and now that I was in the middle of the road, it was headed right at me.  I could hear the car breaking on the ice and it ended up stopping 2 meters from my bonnet.  I had to sit there and think for a couple of seconds to be sure I was OK and that I hadn’t hit anything, before reversing enough to let the car past.  I then straightened up and continued on my way.

I had hit what is called “Black Ice“.  It is ice that you can’t see on the road and you can’t do much about it once you hit it.  I was pretty lucky to get away totally unscathed, which was the opposite to a man I encountered once I parked in the city.  The icy side walks were very hard to navigate in the freezing cold pre-dawn.  i had to concentrate hard on where I walked to ensure I didn’t slip over.  As I walked, I saw a man collapse on the side of the road around 20 meters in front of me.  I rushed over as fast as I could with the icy conditions.  The man was on the road and I was worried he would be hit by a car.  I offered to help him up, but he said he was OK, just winded.  After a minute of gathering himself he managed to pick himself up (he refused to accept my outstretched hand), so I picked up all his belongings for him and handed them over once he was OK.  I offered to call someone for him, but he insisted that he was going to be fine… I think he was too embarrassed to accept help.

 

 

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” – Leonardo da Vinci

We have worked hard these past few days to have our house and possessions ready for the Big Move on Monday.  I have traveled around 200kms in my van, to and from the garbage tip.  We have worked from around 7am till 8pm every day, with very little time to rest.  With the removal truck coming tomorrow, we were almost ready to call it a day here.  The last of the items would be given to charity or thrown out, and then would come the cleaning.

At just before 5pm, we received a call from our lawyer.  Apparently the owner of the house we were about to move to had screwed up the bank details.  Her bank were not ready to release the property to us, meaning that the move would not be going ahead this weekend.  Kitty and I were in shock for around 5 minutes, and I had some trouble understanding the Lawyer.  She was very helpful though, and said that she had already advised the people who bought our house that they would have to postpone the move.  She advised we cancel the removalist and stay where we are till we have everything sorted out.  We quickly arranged the cancellations, yet we were in a daze while doing this.   Afterwards we called our Lawyer again to confirm how things would go in the future.  Apparently, everything is still all going ahead… we just need to wait till the banks sort out their details.

Other news?  My rabbits escaped!  I put them into some cardboard boxes on Wednesday morning, so that I could clean their cages and arrange for their packing for the move.  When I came back in the afternoon I found they had eaten holes in the two boxes and were now roaming free.  I decided not to chase them, so I tried to catch them by letting them come to me.  They were just hopping around my feet, and letting me pat them, yet when I went to slowly grab them, they hopped away.  I managed to catch one, my Ginger, yet the other three are still at large.  I have placed some food for them, so they are still around the house.  If I can’t catch them, I don’t know how I can explain it to the new owners of the house.

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At least Ginger has come back to me.

 

Well, we are not that happy about this situation.  I had taken two weeks off work to complete the move, now it seems like it won’t go ahead at the moment.  Also, our kids are due to start at the new school in ten days.  That could cause some problems too.  yet there is a silver lining here, we now have more time to finish our packing and cleaning, and we now also have some time to enjoy the weekend.  I may also be able to catch my other rabbits that escaped, which would also be nice.

“There’s a drive in me that won’t allow me to do certain things that are easy.” – Johnny Depp

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I am not very happy with Ginger at the moment.

Yesterday started out as a good day.  My female rabbit, Ginger, started to get ready to give birth to her litter of bunnies.  I know she was ready as she had pulled out her fur to make a nest for her little ones.  I added some straw to help with additional building material in endeavour.  I then left her to it and went about my day, busy to the extent that I actually forgot to check on her till 7pm, when I was about to go to a friend’s house where we meet every week or so to discuss preparedness and to watch a permaculture DVD.  I went out and I found that 6 bunnies were born, yet they were all dead.  I don’t know what killed them, or how they died.  I was so disappointed!

It was a bit of a cold day, a bit of a change from the last few weeks of warmth, and it did rain a lot on the late morning.  Still, I don’t know why they died.  When things like this happen you really question the value of the work you put in to the property and the worth of the whole plan.

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A very sad sight, these guys never had a chance.

Another problem occurred during the night.  I have a strand of electric wire around my garden bed, to prevent any nocturnal guests from taking a walk amongst my plants and trees.  I failed to turn it on and it seems that a Possum climbed into by garden, broke at least 8 branches of several trees, ate all the leaves off the bottom of a couple of trees, and finally ate the one Plum which I had grown.  I had nurtured this one Plum for months, it was only days away from being ready to eat.  I am so annoyed at this turn of events, losing a litter of bunnies and my only plum.

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You can see the lower branches have been denuded and a couple of broken branches. The top looks worse.

I have taken the broken branches and potted them into a large garden pot, in the hope that they will grow roots and I can replant them.  I have never had any success with this method (although Kitty does, she just throws the branches in a jar of water, she doesn’t change the water, and two months later she has roots growing from the branch).

On a positive note, I posted a new Instructable a couple of days ago… I forgot to mention it here.  It is on repairing Wooden Framed windows.  I broke a window while I was cutting some grass on my lawnmower (a stone shot out and broke the window).  I took the opportunity to create an Instructable on how to repair this.