Monthly Archives: June 2018

First Rabbit Harvest

I am so proud of myself this week. There was a time, not so long ago, when I never imagined I could raise and harvest my own meat – even though factory-farmed meat sickens me, and I desperately wanted a way of assuring my meat was humanely and happily raised, as well as humanely killed. I also liked the idea of knowing exactly what my future meat was eating!

I started out by designing and building – entirely by myself (other than some help lifting the walls and roof into place) a colony bunny barn. You can read about that, here.

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From my first breeding, I got six kits, and boy howdy, were they cute!

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Twelve weeks later, they weren’t quite so adorable, and it was time.

I used my ballista, a captive bolt gun, which made the death entirely instantaneous and humane. The part that was hardest on the rabbits was the weighing before hand – for some reason, they hate going into the basket scale. The rest of the process was MUCH faster and simpler than chickens.  I let the meat rest in the fridge for 24 hours, and then cut it up into servings and froze them. Again, much easier than chickens!

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From six rabbits, I have enough meat for fourteen meals, PLUS a huge pot of extra bits to turn into broth. Several more meals, right there!

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We ate the livers fried – rabbit livers are even more mellow flavored than chicken livers – and yesterday, had our first official rabbit meal. I used two of the thighs, in an Asian sauce over rice.

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Turned out perfectly! I’m sold. These rabbits are going to work out really well on our farm.

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The Importance of Variety

Have you noticed that fruit just doesn’t taste very good anymore? When I was younger, there was so much FLAVOR in a fresh strawberry, fresh apricot, fresh pear. Nowadays, everything you buy in the store is so bland, so…cardboard compared to how it used to be. I feel sorry for the younger generation. Most of them have probably never tasted how fruit is supposed to taste! One difference is the way produce is shipped across long distances. Everything is picked unripe, then allowed to “ripen” as it drives across state lines.

The other problem is, even locally-grown fruit doesn’t taste right anymore, and that’s because of the varieties farmers are choosing to grow. Heirloom varieties of strawberries, for example, are smaller, and very fragile. You can’t pick them roughly, and pile them in a box, and expect them to keep for even a few hours, much less for days. When I was a kid, you could tell at a glance the local strawberries from the imported strawberries, because the local strawberries (then heirloom varieties) almost look tiny, smashed, and on the verge of decay…but if you could catch them at the right moment, wow were they good!

Farmers nowadays – even the small local farms – want their produce to last on the store shelves. You can’t blame them, but they are choosing to sacrifice taste for convenience. I went to one of my local organic farms last Friday to u-pick a few berries. Ugh. They were large, perfect, gorgeous berries…and they didn’t have hardly any flavor.

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The heirloom variety I chose to grow in my own yard was particularly for its flavor, not its keeping ability: the Shuksan. I don’t have any pictures of these (we gobbled them up too fast) but the difference in taste is striking. The only reason I bothered getting any from the local farm is because I want some to freeze, and I simply don’t have room to grow enough in garden. The ones in my garden are fresh eating only!

So if you are planning to put in some strawberries, don’t plant a variety simply because it “grows well in your area” or is what the local farmers plant. Really research the flavors. You don’t want your berries to taste like commercial berries!

Read this article and see if your mouth doesn’t start watering for some old-fashioned strawberry taste!

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Garden Things

Just a few quick things…and a chicken video at the end.

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I was reading the Art of Doing Stuff (highly, HIGHLY recommend her blog…and not just because I was the reader who told her about Grow a Little Fruit Tree!) and she mentions she puts zip lock bags around her baby apples to protect them from pests. I don’t really have much trouble with bug pests, but I do have crazy squirrels. I’m wondering if bagging the apples will be enough to throw them off?  It’s worth a try!

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Last year, my plum tree was eaten alive by aphids…until the ladybugs finally swooped in like batman in red spotted body armor and saved the day. This year, they learned where my plum is, and they didn’t wait until the entire tree was covered…only a few leaves.  Wait, don’t spray, and the beneficials WILL come!

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And finally, the chicken video, in which we all learn that Ellie HATES my camera. I don’t know why. It’s not as if she hasn’t had pictures taken of her since she was a day old…

 

A Garden Ramble

Sometimes I amuse myself in the garden. I like my garden moles. I like them even more when I move a hedgehog statue into one of their holes…

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I’ve been busy planting more things in the chicken yard. My mom read me an article that said the one thing that really improves a chicken’s wellbeing is not being able to see the entirety of their run at any given moment…they like having little nooks and corners to explore. My yard definitely fits that ideal!

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I should take you on a video tour sometime – would you like that? It’s basically a very long L shape along the east and south sides of my yard.  They sometimes spend weeks just in one particular end – and then they’ll spend a week at the opposite. It’s like they have vacation homes!

The Rex rabbit kits will be 10 weeks old this Saturday, and are such a lively bunch. I moved them out of the Bunny Barn colony at eight weeks because I bred one of the does (Thistle) and wanted to give them their own space to finish growing out.  Thistle has since had a litter of four very healthy kits! This colony system is really working out well.

Inside the house, I finally got my sourdough “mother” going so I can bake bread.

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I used Maryjane Butters’ book “Wild Bread” and I highly recommend it! Packed with info, cool pictures, and the easiest method of making a mother I’ve ever seen. One bit of warning, she does want you to buy $70 worth of brand-name bowls, etc, to get started, but you definitely don’t have to. I used what I had at hand, and it worked perfectly fine. So far I’ve made pancakes and waffles, and both were excellent. Sunday, my mother will be strong enough to try bread!

And I’ll end this with a few beauty shots of things growing in my garden. This is a water clover, growing in one of my pools.

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And these are calendula flowers. I love growing these intermingled with my vegetables because they attract bees, are so bright and colorful, and are edible themselves!

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There Are No Dead People in Heaven

What do you think of, when you think of heaven? I was shocked to discover that the majority of people (including Christians, who should know better) believe it is a somewhat boring place, where everyone sits around on puffy white clouds, playing harps. Somewhat like this:

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No wonder people are so much more interested in living here, on earth. Too bad they fail to understand completely what heaven really is.

To begin with, there are no dead people in heaven. The dead people are here on earth, walking around, completely unaware they are lacking life. Jesus said, “I am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” If you don’t know Christ, you are already dead.  The unsaved breath, walk around, eat, and believe they are alive. But in truth, they are actually the “walking dead”.

But once you have accepted Christ’s free gift of life, you are transformed into a living soul. You cannot, will not, die. People also have a misunderstanding of what death is. Death is not that moment where we pass from this world into the next. That’s just a doorway. That’s like saying we have died every time we walk out of our house into our garden. No. True death is the absence of true life…and true life can only be found with God.

Dead people don’t go to heaven.  Dead people continue on to eternal death. Living people go to heaven, the place of eternal joy and life. The Bible doesn’t tell us very many details about heaven, probably because if we really understood what it is like, we’d never be able to bear living here. The most wonderful, most beautiful place on earth is a filthy slum compared to heaven. The most happiness we’ve ever felt here on earth is horrible despair compared to the joy of heaven. It’s indescribable.

When I went looking for images, I couldn’t find anything to picture heaven.  But the people who think it will be an endless “church service” of harp music and hymns are wrong. The God who created this world is not a God who could possibly be boring or uncreative when it comes to preparing a place for us to enjoy. As someone said once, it took Him six days to create this world…and He’s been working on Heaven for two thousand years! It’s going to be ALL the things we love here, in their most perfect fulfillment.

I couldn’t find anything to picture heaven, but I found some pictures that, for me, capture a tiny fraction of what I know it will be like. Color, beauty, love, truth, perfection, joy, and always, perfect love in the presence of my Savior.

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And no fear. Absolutely never, ever, any fear.

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I cannot wait to ride those horses and hug those lions….

Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Come soon.