HOW I FEED OUR MEAT RABBITS FOR FREE

When I set out to raise meat rabbits last year I wasn’t worried about how I would afford to feed them. I simply thought, eh how expensive can they be? Granted they are quite small, but if you plan to pellet feed it will add up, and quick. 

Rabbits will fatten on grass or just about anything green they can get their mouths on so feeding them cheaply is easily done. 

I keep alfalfa pellets around for emergencies and winter months. But from February-March and on through September-October I can feed our rabbitry for free. 

Be patient folks I can be long winded and tend to side track… Like right now…

  
If you’re a returning reader then you know that my family and I rent 5 acres. Fortunately a little more than 75% of the property is irrigated with hand lines, unfortunately as of now we don’t possess the proper attachments for our tractor to mow and re-seed the field. 

What does this all mean you may ask? It means we have a real weed problem. Gallons of water covering the field whilst grass and weeds duke it out for dominance of the pasture… You see if a pasture isn’t maintained properly then weeds will encroach and fight the grass out for ground space and sun exposure.  

 

^^^ See how the grass is barely making a play for space under the dandelion and other weeds?

In many a folks eye this would be seen as a huge problem. Unjustly weed killer would be coating our property, that would be the end of weeds for good, and that’s ok for them. 

But me? I wanted to put my new found permaculture knowledge to the test. And I certainly don’t want weed killer all over the soil that feeds my family and my animals. Isn’t there anyway I can turn this problem into a solution?

And yes there was. There always is.

End side track…

Hey Q wanna feed your rabbits for free and supplement the flocks diet with some fresh greens? Heck yes I do! 

So I just simply note where large patches of weeds are growing in the pasture and around the house or gardens. Usually twice a day  the farm kids and I head outside to ‘pick weeds for the rabbits’ as miss Ireland refers to it. In about 5-10 minutes the rabbits have all they’ll need for day and I’ll even gather enough to please the homestead flock. I’ll do this again in the evening when I check water bottles and bedding.  
I make a point to grab variety for the rabbits so they have a little bit more of a natural choice. After all, they deserve it.  


Of course I always have hay on hand for their bedding and general munching needs. 

It may seem a little crazy to be out in the field twice a day pulling weeds for bunnies eh? But this time of year Im already outside filling water bottles for them twice a day as it is. So for me it doesn’t feel like a whole lot of extra work.

I simply give them enough weeds based on my personal observations of the rabbits individually.(if there’s no greens left the rabbit could still be hungry, if its wilting and going to waste then I could be feeding the rabbit too much) I also determine their rations  according to size and whethe or not the doe is pregnant and/or nursing.

When I do have a doe in one of these stages I will provide her with pellet food once a day while pregnant then free choice once nursing and weaning. The babies are fed both with mom from the time they can jump from the nestbox at will. This way they can be placed into rabbit tractors to fatten on the thicker parts of the pasture until butchering time. 

   

And since I’m weeding a little everyday it doesn’t feel like annoying labor. I enjoy getting something out of these “useless plants” and so do the farm animals. 

I’ve now exhausted all the weeds around the house and have moved to more distant zones. I love how much more aware of the ground we live on I am becoming. I’m getting to know it better everyday. Walking, looking for more weeds to feed the cavies, noticing the grass regrowth, the wildflowers, even the holes dug by the puppies, ahem. 

I don’t hate the weeds like I used to. I’m finding purpose in them now. The animal are getting nourished by them. Little by little the grass is retaking the pasture and backyard. We’re saving more money with the animals then ever before. 

Sunday lazy dayin’ around these parts. Peace and love y’all 

Quincy

SEED STARTING INDOORS

Around my corner of the world starting seeds indoors is a must. Unless you have a green house, in which case, you’re off to a great start. 

But if you don’t have a green house, like me for example… creativity or capital, is a must!

Since I refuse to spend crazy amounts of cash on trays and those little starter pellets (that totally used to be me guys…) I decided to try creativity this season.  

In this case creativity comes in the form of solo cups and some other random dollar store plastic cups. I had some laying around and picked up a few more packs for cheap. 

I normally hate anything plastic but I can recycle these and until I can buy this soil block press, here is how I’m getting creative. 

(I even tried this Pinterest hack in which you use toilet paper rolls as seed blocks, two words… Epic Failure… You can see below how most of them just plain feel apart.. If you want to give this a shot then I suggest buying tp that’s got a reinforced cardboard rolls.)

  

But I’m doing good with the cups and I’m ok with that. 

     
Luckily the homestead husband has an awesome set up of some light hoods perfect for starting seeds. Not that I have always done it like this. Don’t get me wrong starting seeds without lights can and does work great, for most seeds. 

However, for those finicky starts that tend to be on the picky pampered side (tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc), a little light and added warmth makes all the difference. 

For example. Last season I started corn under the lights and it was the first year I’ve ever planted corn, had it grow knee high by 4th of July (to ensure harvest), and proceed to grow 8′ tall! I was astounded when I had tons of silk and cobs, but so to was my horse… Alas she ate them all… I’m sure her belly was full and warm that night. This year she will have no such luck!

My point being that I believe the lights were the key to my success last year. When those corn starts went outside they were stout and hardened off. Ready to for planting. Corn starts in my previous years were lanky and washed out, ending up broken from wind or lack of strength. 

  
(Above: assorted bean starts)

Now that I thoroughly bored you with my corn story… Want to see what else we have started so far?

For convenience I have labeled, in parenthesis, which seed companies I purchased the seeds from. 

SSE= Seed Savers Exchange

 MTG= Mike the Gardener

TSC= Territorial Seed Company

  • Tomatoes: Amish Paste(SSE), German Pink(SSE), Homestead(MTG), Large Cherry(MTG)
  • Cucumber: White Wonder(MTG), A&C Pickling(SSE)
  • Beans: Cherokee Wax(Ferry Morse), Dragons Tongue(SSE), Calypso(SSE), Black Turtle(Ferry Morse)
  • Sunflowers: Lemon Queen(SSE), Velvet Queen(SSE), Taiyo(SSE) 
  • Peas: Amish Snap(SSE)
  • Pumpkin: Small Sugar(TSC)
  • Radish: Cherry Belle(TSC)–direct sow (4/15)
  • Turnip: Shogoin (MTG)–direct sow (4/15)
  • Cabbage: Savoy(MTG)
  • Kale: Dwarf Green Curled(TSC)
  • Corn: Smoke Signals(SSE), Golden Bantam Improved(SSE)
  • Lettuce: Red Iceberg(TSC) 
  • Peppers: Early Jalapeño(TSC), Purple Beauty(MTG) 
  • Squash: Black Beauty Zucchini(SSE) 

It may seem like quite a lot but this is only the beginning. I am going all in this year and I’m extremely motivated to provide as much food for my family as possible. I’m dreaming of shelves full of canned goods and cold storage packed with roots vegetables. 

  

 (Above: assorted sunflower starts… Because their are my favorite… And they do fantastic in my living room window, so I never have to miss out on their beauty!)

Who knows, if I’m satisfied with my gardens production this summer I may put a chicken garden into the works. Wouldn’t it be stellar to have a garden space specially for spoiling our flock of little dinos?

Yes, I totally said stellar. 

Getting to getting outside. Get to work!

Quincy

    DIATOMACEOUS EARTH and why your homestead needs it.

    Diatomaceous Earth or DE is “a soft, crumbly, porous sedimentary deposit formed from the fossil remains of diatoms.” And it works wonders on the homestead, or so I’ve heard. 

    I am no expert here, more so I’m basically a novice in all things farm and organic garden… One thing I do very well though, is research.. all of my efforts are simply trial and error. And so I bring you this post. 

     
    I’ve read so many great things about DE and when I found it on Amazon for a good price I had to snag some up. Here are the places we are going use it:

    1. Chicken Dust Bath- this deters mites like no other. I simply add some to their dust bath whenever it seems to need it. It only works when dry so consider using a storage tote for your bust bath so you have the choice to put a lid on it in unfavorable weather. 

    2. In The Garden- bugs won’t go near it. Apparently is soft powdery texture is like broken glass to insects and bugs so they refuse to crawl over it… Isn’t that crazy. Any insect/bug with an exoskeleton is toast within 24 hrs with DE on guard. And as far as slugs… Remember that part about it being like microscopic broken glass? Yeah I’ll let you fill in the blanks on that one… Heck in some states this powerhouse qualifies as certified organic pesticide. 

    3. In the Home/Barn: It can also be fed to various livestock as an insecticide. And even just for over all health benefitting each animal uniquely and efficiently. I’ve read articles that say some use DE as a old time treatment for worms in large stock. And some people eat it daily for health reasons. Or even use it for bed bugs and live/fleas. Apparently it’s even a great liver/digestive  detoxant. Cool huh?

    4. This stuff is so great that even the homestead husband is using it on his indoor garden to deter bugs. Anywhere you put this powdery powerhouse the creepy crawlers are sure to stay away… Or die… Ahem. 

    So why not give it a try?
    I will definitely update y’all on how this works since I had big issues in my broccoli and zucchini last year. 

    Give it a try. What’s there to lose?
    Peace and Love

    Quincy 

    OUR NEW VINTAGE TRACTOR

    Sometimes it’s the little things, and sometimes it’s an awesome vintage tractor for a great deal! 

    It does not take much to please me but if you’re trying, just throw anything old at me. No joke, I love vintage. I love items with history, with a story. I love anything with a little rust on it, I promise, just check out my daily driver. 

    Just think about all the work this tractor has done? And how many projects it completed in its time… How cool is that?!?

    It came from Lake Creek Lodge, the homestead husbands place of employment. LCL has been around since the early 1920s so it has a great deal of history. Some of which this ole ford machine played a big role in. Spencer says this tractor performed all the major work up there for over 40 years!


    Ireland was ecstatic at her first site of it. She can’t stop “driving” it. Seriously, if she’s missing just check the tractor. 

    As for the hubby and I? We couldn’t be more grateful. And darn lucky that were actually able to buy it, for great price to. 

      
    I love everything about this new addition. It has personality and history. And even more to be made. We have lots of plans that will be made easier with this valuable piece of machinery. 

    This stellar find is just one example of how we cut costs and do with what we can within our means.

    You don’t have to be rich to be a homesteader. But you must be open minded. 

    Peace and Love

    Quincy