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“A Post About Today: April 16th, 2021”

It’s been a quiet and productive spring thus far.  2 of the 4 greenhouses are fully seeded/planted for the year.  The upper greenhouse is about 1/3 planted, and only limited to that because we’ve only managed to create grow beds in 1/3 of the whole structure!  Little sprouts are cropping everywhere.  The currants are flowering, and the new kiwis are just putting out leaves.  In another month or 2, the greenhouses will be stuffed full of lush greenery!  So far we are on track to meet our planting goals, which I mentioned in
in this post.   We still need to plant several hundred square feet of potatoes, but those beds will be outdoors and we’re still waiting for the snow to melt!  The potatoes did do well in the aviary last year, I anticipate planting the majority of the aviary with potatoes this year.  I tried planting other food in there; corn, squash, peas, etc- but the majority of it was either trampled, or simply failed because it was such a cold summer.  The doves and quail seem particularly fond of eating squash plant leaves, which is a shame because I think the plants would otherwise do wonderfully in there!  If I plant more squash in the aviary this year, I will have to make small greenhouses/tents over each plant to keep the nibbling beaks out until they’re established.

In other news, I’ve been working on some hide tanning experiments.  These deserve a post of their own, but, you know, it’s worth mentioning for a brief moment.  Frustratingly, when it’s so difficult to research how to do things the “old-fashioned” way, you’re often left to reinvent the wheel.  So I’m taking tanning back to basics, using natural materials to oil the hides, then cold-smoking to water proof them for winter garments this upcoming season.  I’ve had a few failures so far, for sure.  But I have a few successes, too.  It’s been a long time since I tanned hides, and I used to use chemical tanning solutions.  I will get into the nitty-gritty details of the experiment in a separate post when I’m done working the hides.   For now, the most interesting thing to me is reading/watching so many resources that not only have very conflicting “guidelines” for what you can and can’t do, but many of them will tell you that you can’t hope to tan a fur-on  hide that’s been salted for more than 3 or 4 months.  The oldest hide I just tanned has been salted for 3 years.  It was a nice big Columbian ground squirrel that Mario the Cat killed.  And you know what?  It came out as one of the best out of over 20 hides!  It’s a beautiful piece, evenly oiled and smokey, perfectly broken in and shaved nice and thin, and not a hair slipping on the hide.  In fact, most of the hides I tanned as an experiment were well over 1 year old.  So that tells me the “common knowledge” that’s out there is flawed.  Either folks are parrot-talking what they were told, or they did something to ruin the hide long before it was salted (or it was salted improperly).  I have many more hides I will be tanning, many more that have been salted and stored for many years.  I’m eager to complete them and share the results this summer!


And on the farm, we are excited to have a new breeding buck in the rabbit colony!  Pie Spice is a 50/50 flemish/California cross, displaying a curious coat of a faint brindle patterning.  While he’s still young and not done growing, Pie Spice has quickly earned his place on the farm.  He is the most gentle, affectionate buck I’ve ever seen with the does, and he is currently tolerating the other 2 bucks in the colony with no fighting or bloodshed.  I hope that he is ushering in the most peaceful era of colony life my rabbits have seen yet!  The buck I swapped him out with was Hazel, son of Hazel my founding colony buck.  I had high hopes for Hazel 2.0, but he is MEAN.  He brutally attacks does he doesn’t like and will kill any other buck that he finds, including young grow-outs.  Yeesh!  He also throws small litters.  I’m disappointed, as his father was a great buck, but so be it. 


Lastly, a goat update!  The 2 remaining kids are doing wonderfully.  They’re sweet, affectionate, trusting, and in excellent health.  Both does are milking well, giving us 1.5 to 2 gallons of milk per day between them, whilst still nursing 1 kid each.  Good job, ladies!  Ruma is free and clear of any risk of uterine infection from my intrusive birthing intervention (read about that ordeal here).  I am infinitely relieved that she suffered no complications.  Once again, usnea saves the day.  That wonderful, abundant, safe, and natural antibiotic lichen!


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