Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The beginning of it all.......

A year ago this month, I brought home these two girls, innocently enough, to gather a little luxury fiber for my spinning and knitting.  In that year I've added 2 more Angoras, and 3 Mini Rex for a total of 7 rabbits.....plus a chicken!   'And I'm not even breeding them!   (dang!  Those baby coats look good on those girls!)  

I would love to breed a couple of my rabbits, but really had a pang of fear and dread put in me recently when reading on one of the Yahoo Groups that a "cull buyer" was planning to attend an upcoming show.  I had never heard that term before.  That's even worse than knowing the extras go in the freezer.  "Cull buyer" -  it sounds positively Dickensian.  

The reality is you can always breed more animals - rabbits, in my case - than you can reasonably sell, and the future for the extras is grim - pet stores, food for snakes (the mini rex), etc. - something I just will not do.   I found out this week that spaying and neutering rabbits at the local 'exotic' Vet runs $298, per bun, before pain meds.  So......I won't be doing that anytime soon, either.   

It's got to be a very difficult balance for those who breed livestock - to breed enough to develop the  characteristics / wool / fliber, etc. that you want, while not creating so many you have to harden your heart and mind to the consequences of what happens to the unwanted ones.  

A downer post.  Sorry, but it is one of those hard things the farmer has to think about, whether they are farming in the rural, suburban, or urban setting. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not what I had planned

Thanksgiving was fine this year, just not what I had planned.  I am on Day 9 of a bad cold, involving head, chest, and everything in between. The cough is the worst - so much for the Pertussis vaccination I had earlier this year.  I had to decline the invitations I received to go for Thanksgiving dinner, for fear of passing along this bug.  I cooked for myself, so I had the turkey, broccolli casserole and potatoes - Macy's parade on TV, "Miracle on 34th St" on DVD - it was fine.  I always buy and cook a small amount for myself - invitations out or not - because you never know if you will get sent home with leftovers, and that's the best part!

I had Thursday and Friday scheduled off for a long weekend, but after coming in on Monday with the cold, by Tuesday I completely lost my voice; and my boss made me go home.  When you work in a hospital, you have to think about possible transmission to the patients.  Wednesday was the only day I felt bad, so I called in.  I don't think I've had this much time off at a stretch since I started this job nearly 7 years ago.  (???)   The one thing I'm loving,  in spite of the cold symptoms, is being able to spend so much time with my animals.

Abigail has gone broody - about the same time I got the cold.  I was concerned I had made her sick, or maybe she had made me sick (?) but no, she is in full broody mode now.  She has stopped laying, her comb and wattles are pink, not red, she pecks, fluffs out her neck feathers and raises a fuss if I try to get her out of the nest box, and she is producing big broody poops. If it were spring, I might have bought a couple of hatching eggs to put under her,.  It's a good thing I haven't though, because - being a young bird, probably broody for the first time, she isn't entirely dedicated to it.  Today, as a sunbeam came in and fell across her 'coop,' she started digging in the shavings with her head, then rolling over .... I realized she was taking the equivalent of a 'dust' bath in her nest box!  Any eggs would have been scrambled!   The "Backyard Chickens" website and Forum have been very helpful for this first-time chicken owner!
The kitties have been very lovey since the weather got cold - taking advantage of any temp spikes on my part to snuggle in and warm themselves up.  No one ever said cats were not mercenaries!

I went out Friday night to the auction and bought an old (30's or 40's?) Singer sewing machine in a flip-top table - $30.  I already have a portable sewing machine that I use only for mending because I don't really enjoy sewing and don't make clothes.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but it was really cool, and it could be an end table in the meantime.    I also bought an upholstered chair ($5)- the kind you've probably seen in your grandmother's house.  It is scaled well for my place, comfortable to sit in, and the more upright, less slouchy style will be better for sitting in to knit.  The upholstery is in good shape except for a quarter- sized place on the seat.  I'ts just brown, and very ugly.   Reupholstering or a fitted slip cover will make it right.  Now I just need to figure out how to get them home, since neither will fit in my car.

So, it wasn't what I planned, but it was a good holiday overall. .

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Prayer for Animals

The events at a friend's farm this week brought to mind this prayer, which I came across many years ago:

Hear our humble prayer Oh God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering, for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry, for all that must be put to death.  We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words.  Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
                                                                                                             -  Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Relationships - part deux

Picking up on Michelle's theme today of 'relationships,' I thought I would talk a little about my own peaceable kingdom.

Abigail is displaying some personality.  She is regularly laying an egg every other day.  When I come in from work each night, Fiona always greets me, and the other three kitties usually do.  If it's not an "egg day," there is silence from the coop as I come in, but if she's layed an egg, Abigail begins to 'chortle' as soon as I come in the door.  Wants me to come and see what she's done!  She seems to love being made over, and cocks her head from side to side while I tell her what a good girl she is.  None of the sounds or other animals seem to bother her, and she seems content in her little cage/coop.  If I leave the door open she doesn't even try to come out.  The indoor chicken thing is working out OK.  The shavings absorb the droppings and smell well, and are easily scooped out like a cat box.  It's no worse than having a Parrot or Macaw in the house, and she might even be less messy than the cats or rabbits.  She gets supplemental greens and vegetables, and I throw a tablespoon or so of scratch grains down for her from time to time. The former dropping pan of the re-done rabbit cage is the inner floor of the new chicken coop - thick and super-tough plastic, so she can scratch away!

Setting up the cage and getting Abigail installed in her new home - big mess then, less now. 

Michu seems to have taken a liking to Abigail.  The day I set up the cage, she parked herself in front of it, and can be found there much of the time.  In my split-level townhouse, the bedrooms are downstairs.  Michu is the only cat that won't come down and sleep - if not on the bed - at least in the room with me.  She stays all by herself upstairs.  I keep a small light on up there all the time.  Who knows - maybe she's afraid of the dark!?  She seems to enjoy the company of having another animal there with her. 

This is Fiona in a nutshell.  While she is very bonded to me, she hasn't buddied-up with any of the other animals, and here is perched on a favorite spot high above the fray, wondering what kind of creature Mom is bringing in now!    Poor thing, in the last year she's had a lot of new animals to get used to!  

Ciaran and Yoshi are buds, play-fight and chase each other all the time, and sleep tangled up together - very much what Yoshi was used to with her siblings at the shelter.   Ciaran is very lean - not an ounce of fat on him (I think of he and Michu as Jack Spratt and his wife) and does seem to get cold.  Especially on weekend mornings, when I get to sleep in and Yoshi has taken off, Ciaran will to crawl under the covers with me and snuggle up against me to get warm.  

Having the bunnies lead such solitary lives, each in separate cages, bothers me.  It can't be helped, but I do try to give them lots of "Mom-time" and attention to make up for it.  I've given some serious thought to spaying and neutering Ivy and Niko.  I don't want to breed either one of them, and if they were "fixed" they might be able to bond and play with each other out of their cages. 

I was such a bad Mommy last night.  I was clipping Bambina's nails and got one into the quick.  I didn't have any Quick-Stop so she bled all over me and all over the bed.   She was good about letting me squeeze her toe tight with a cloth to try to stop the bleeding.  She doesn't seem to hold it against me, but I felt like a heel. 

All the Mini Rexs, including the new one (who shall be Orion, 'Rion' for short) have gone into a molt.  It's nothing like when the Angoras begin to slip their coats, but they look pretty patchy.   Not very practical on a hobby farm, but they are cute and loveable pets.

Until next time from Wren cottage ......

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just a Little More.....

Here is another fall arrangement in my house that I wasn't able to add to yesterday's post, because I had forgotten to put the photo in the computer.

Beautiful hand-thrown pottery pitcher from Flat Creek Pottery with silk dogwood leaves, a copper tray from the auction (I left it unpolished for now) and a bird and leaf dish from Home Goods.   I love to decorate for fall, and do more at this time of year than I do for Christmas.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Blog I Like

I have mentioned before in my auction finds, that I like transferware china.   I had discovered an ETSY shop that had tons of beautiful transferware, but too pricy for my fleamarket budget.   Then I found the same lady has a blog - and you know how I love to read blogs.  Nancys Daily Dish blog.   Like a couple of other blogs I had mentioned here, it is waaaaaaay more 'busy' than I would want to live, but I can zero in on a decorative element or item and sometimes put the idea to use at home with what I have.     

Like mixing yard sale, flea market, antique and Home Goods items together.       

I don't have a 'style.' Right now my house looks more like an episode of 'Hoarders'  - with  fleeces, books and magazines, and enough general clutter that it's even getting on my nerves.  If I did have a style though, it would be fairly simple, with some interesting finds as decoration - fun things to look at.   

I never make New Year's resolutions, but one of my goals this winter is to continue to de-clutter (between spinning sessions) and to put some of the lovely things I have to good use.     

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekend Fun and a Surprise!

When I got home last night, I found that Abigail had laid an egg!  She wasn't sitting on it, and didn't object to me taking it from her.  I told her what a wonderful chicken she is.
It's bigger than I thought it would be - certainly bigger than the ones I saw at the poultry show in coops and the eggs they were judging.  It looks small-to-medium to me.  Here it is next to a store bought large egg:

Last weekend, after leaving the rabbit show, I went to Equinox Farm for the first annual "Hug a Sheep Day."  The Shepherdess at the farm had an open house at this time last year, but the sheep, for the most part, were too scared of us to play.  This year we discovered the secret...........bribes.   She had some of the friendliest sheep penned next to the barn, and when the others saw they were getting something from the strangers, and liking it, their curiosity overcame their caution.  

This is Graham Lamb.  He seems to have an identity crisis.  Not only does he think he's a pumpkin, but when he speaks, out comes something that is far more "mooooo" than "baaaaa."  

sigh......it ain't easy being "The Great Pumpkin......"

oooh look, some nice hay.........wait!  Do I smell...........cookies?!?

Yeah!  Over there!   Get her, guys! 

I think Sara knows that we participants from town enjoy coming to her farm as much to satisfy our unrequited "farmer genes" as for the knitting, spinning, food and schmoozing - although we had a lot of fun doing those things too!

Pastorale - can't you just hear the music?

Hank - ever vigilant guard dog - and Miss Ewenice 

Nilla wafers, aka "sheep cookies"

Learning from the master - Mary Hal

 Sorry babies.  Mommy said no more cookies, they will upset your tummy.

Hey Lady!  I know you've got cookies on you!  Hand 'em over! 

Miss Ewenice - aaaah, it's been a great day....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's New at Wren Cottage

I have been SO busy in the last week, it may take more than one post to get it all in.  My little hen has gotten a name.  She will be Abigail, or Abby, after Abigail Adams.  (although I can't imagine anyone calling Mrs. Adams, Abby).  IF I get any more chickens - and that may have to wait until / unless I truly find myself in the country - I will use a First Lady theme to name them.  Only the earlier ones though, no Michelles, Hillarys, or Nancys.


Not to worry, this is just a travel cage.  Abigail's repurposed rabbit cage is several times larger.  In the Spring, she will get outside time in a covered pen, so she can scratch the dirt and eat bugs and worms like other chickens.     

Saturday morning, I got up long before dawn to head to Shepherdsville for a rabbit show.  There I met up with Jessica Redelman of Redelman's Rabbitry, to pick up a blue Mini Rex buck from her.  She was terrific, and very patient with my questions.  She had lots of rabbits there to show, but took time out to set up my new bun, give me a quick lesson in how to assess Mini Rex conformation, and honestly describe his stronger and weaker points. She is a Nationals winner, and is far, far ahead of everyone else in youth sweepstakes points this year, so I think she knows what she's talking about.   Lovely girl, and studying to be a Vet. 

Jessica watching Judge Wade Burkhalter judging one of her rabbits.  She won just about everything, with her "leftovers" as she called them,  (her Nationals Team stayed home) even with LOTS of other Mini Rex there. 

Rabbit shows are organized chaos, with many different tables judging different breeds, all at the same time.  

My new bunny, Redelman's R581.  He has to keep that as his 'official' name if he's shown, but as usual, I haven't come up with a name yet to call him at home. He's a good bit darker than this, and really does have a blue cast to his coat.  He's very well socialized, lets me pick him up and cuddle him, and is as inquisitive as any little boy.   I really like this guy!  

Isn't he cute?   He's just over 3 months old, and about half the size of my does.  

Ciaran says "hey, buddy!  What do you think you're doing on MY cat tower?" 

I've tried to get new photos of my Angoras, to show those who have asked what they look like with their wool cut off, but they aren't good about staying put.  That and the delay on my camera shutter got me photos of only heads turned away and rear ends.  I'll keep trying.  

The cats couldn't be less concerned about all this 'livestock.'  The only thing that seems to bother them is another cat coming into the house, but that's not going to happen .........I promise! 

Next time, "Hug a Sheep Day" at Equinox Farm.