Monday, April 19, 2010

crop rotation experiement started

You may have been cornered by me at one point or another and had to endure my enthusiastic monologue about using the chickens as part of my crop rotation plans. For those of you who haven't, or those that are gluttons for punishment, here is the latest and greatest!

It was time to start planting and the ladies did a great job clearing out their field, and were ready for a new field to scratch into dirt. The only problem with the first field was that while it was all dirt on top, there was a significant amount of roots underneath that the chickens weren't getting to. In time, I'm sure this will be eventually eradicated, but for now it makes planting almost as difficult as if I were to be breaking new ground. It was decided that a rototiller would be a useful tool to have after all.

Lucky for me, James gave me a certificate for a tiller on my birthday (I know, he's the greatest, huh?!), and we picked it up this weekend. I couldn't wait to use it! I had to shoo all the ladies out of the field and then I began chopping into the ground leaving soft piles of rich dirt behind me. Bliss! After liming the soil, I planted potatoes using Solomon's technique. I planted James' favorite - the Red Noland, along with a white potato variety and some fingerlings. With the planting complete, the only thing left to do was give the chickens another field to clear. And so, that's what we did.

James erected fencing around a second field for the girls, and completed it last night. They woke up and walked into their new area this morning and seemed very pleased with the size and abundance of greenery to peck at. I hope they have it mostly cleared by the end of May as I have summer crops I want to plant in the second field. If not, the tiller can help out.

By the end of the weekend, the first rotation of field/chicken/veggie crop is in motion for the year. I will keep you updated on how the grand plan turns out! In the meantime, I am keeping myself occupied with all my other garden goals, which as of yesterday, involve the tiller playing a significant part.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Arthur and his bunnies - part 2

Thank you for all your information about dandelions being okay for rabbits to eat. Curious about the discrepancy, I asked Arthur to show me his rabbit care book and point out where it says dandelions are poisonous. He brought it out to me and pointed to a picture of a daffodil. Apparently, he got these and dandelions confused. I am quite relieved that our dandelions won't be a problem. Our yard does look nicer now though!

Tuesday evening, we pick up the two rabbits. Both are female. One is a Rex rabbit and the other is an angora rabbit. The lady talked with Arthur about caring for them, what they like, and how to handle them. At the end of the talk she asked if he still wanted them and he said yes he did. He then proceeded to hand her a wad of bills that he had saved to buy the rabbits. The lady kindly handed them back to Arthur and said that she decided just to give him the rabbits for free. That was really wonderful of her.

We loaded the hutches, alfalfa, and feed in the truck, and the bunnies in carriers, which both boys had to hold on their laps as their was no extra room inside the cab. This pleased them greatly and the ride home went fast for them as they had rabbits to stare at and talk about.

Once they were set up, I noticed that they didn't have salt licks. Wednesday is town day for us so I told the boys that we would stop at the feed store and pick some up. At the store, Arthur used his own money to purchase rabbit shampoo and a harness vest to take the rabbits for a walk. Both these items cracked me up, delighted Arthur, and caused Jamey to want to buy similar products for his chickens which the store was sadly lacking (guess no one thinks of putting a chicken on a leash!).

That afternoon, Arthur tried out the harness on both rabbits. The Rex, which Arthur has now named Rex, hopped all over with Arthur following happily behind. I'd say the rabbit took Arthur for a walk, instead of the other way around. After a while, he put Rex away and put the harness on the angora, which he calls Angel. Angel wasn't as keen out being on a leash as Rex, and promptly laid down and played dead. Arthur stood over her holding the leash for about 15 minutes while she put a opossum to shame, before giving up the ghost
and putting her back in the cage harness free, where she miraculously came back to life.

After walking the rabbits, Arthur decides it is time to bathe the bunny, which I said should wait another day. After all, Rex and Angel had enough torture, I mean excitement, for one day. He thought about it and agreed to put off bathing for now.

I wish I had some pictures to share, but the battery charger is still missing for my camera. I have been hunting high and low for it and am on the brink of purchasing another from Amazon. I didn't realize that I was a picture taking addict, until I can't take any. Needless to say, the boys are cute, the bunnies are cute, and everyone is in gaga land over Arthur's new pets.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

rabbits for Arthur

As you may know, Arthur is nutty for bunnies. You may also recall that past forays into bunny land have not gone well for us. Since our bunnies died, Arthur has been clamoring for another rabbit. I have been hesitant as I just don't want to have another rabbit die without understanding what the cause is.

Arthur took this into account and has been reading all about caring for rabbits and he found some information that surprised us. Did you know dandelions are poisonous to rabbits? And, did you know rabbits can't tell what is or isn't posionous to them? So, we are thinking with all the dandelions in our yard and having the movable yard hutch, this might have been one of the causes of death. We don't know for sure, but it is plausible.

We had a long talk, and decided that we really need to have off the ground rabbit hutches if we are getting a rabbit, and then we could put out the temporary pet fencing in the yard in dandelion free zones so it can hop about and play. And, I am in the process of pulling up what dandelions we have so one potential threat can be eradicated.

Now the exciting part - Aunt Connie surprised us by posting a "rabbits wanted" on Craigslist for Arthur and found us quite the deal. We have a lady who is willing to sell Arthur two rabbits, two outdoor hutches, and all the food/accessories that go with it for $25. The hutches alone that she has are being sold for $150. We talked this over and said yes, we would take it. Arthur is using his hard earned money to purchase the rabbits/hutches himself and is pleased as punch to be getting them. He plans on caring for them and showing them for 4-H.

So, after school is done today, we are off in Mom's truck to pick them up!