After a glorious and extremely busy Indian Summer, as they’re called around here, fall has finally brought us its first frost! So where have I been?
I’ve been rebuilding bee hives for new packages to arrive in spring.
I’ve been getting the last of the winter squash harvested and stored away.
I’ve been overseeing this year’s goat breeding.
I’ve been covering up the new rabbit cages so that the rain and wet can’t drip into the cage.
I’ve been acquiring rabbits.
I’ve been taking the mastiff on her first ever camping trip.
I’ve been acquiring Grinder’s replacement.
I’ve been planning Frost Fest and attending regular meetings and drum circles.
I’ve been attending an amazing goat nutrition workshop.
I’ve been panicking over the last cutting of hay that never got cut and is standing dead in the field.
I’ve been attending craft shows as a vendor.
I’ve been sub teaching.
I’ve been tanning the last of last year’s hides.
I’ve been saving seeds.
I’ve been making my first attempt at pemmican.
I’ve been learning to propagate fruit trees via stem cuttings.
I’ve been busy.
To really go into all of those things is far too much for one post. I’ll try to hit the highlights but a couple of things are going to get their own announcement posts as well.
Perhaps the biggest change is that Grinder is no more. The big bad jerkface of a goat has been sent to his eternal rest and his horns and skull are being cleaned for display, as they are impressive. He’s been replaced by a really spectacular 100% New Zealand Kiko named DAD Red Man, who came to us via Kidding Around Kikos near Raleigh, NC. The girls he’ll be covering are QRR Fred’s 50% daughters and they won’t be old enough until next year but y’all I am SO EXCITED to see what they produce.
Speaking of goats, all of this year’s crop has been spoken for. I’ll have a batch of hides to work with starting next week. We’ve worked out an arrangement with a second local custom processor who can turn your goat into chops and burger for you. (Please note, we’re not selling meat. We can’t. We will happily arrange transport to the custom processor, who also does not sell meat but processes an animal specifically for its owner. Maryland has very strict rules.) This processor will be kicking back any hides to me to tan. I’ve acquired an additional connection in that market as well, and anticipate being able to sell all of the pelts without any difficulty.
This was part of the conversation during breaks at the recent small ruminant nutrition and body condition scoring workshop that I attended (with a few of my does as practice animals) this weekend. I’m proud to say that my does were pronounced to be both beautiful and in great shape by people far more experienced than I am. Knowing something and having it validated are not the same thing, after all. I met some great people, made some good connections, and came out with a much better understanding of the way a goat’s entire feed intake- not just one aspect of it- can be balanced out for efficiency and performance. It was a very worthwhile drive.
I also found out at this same workshop (because many of the same people are also raising other livestock as well. It’s an ugly truth that you simply can’t make much money on small ruminants.) that rabbits fall under the same volume exemption as poultry. Since I sincerely doubt that I’ll be slaughtering more than 2,000 rabbits a year, I think it’s safe to say that yes, you can buy a rabbit from me and I will happily dress it out for you. First batch of kits from the new silver fox rabbits is expected in March, as well as the second batch of kits from the Giant crosses.
Can I just pause for a moment to express how psyched I am to have a breeding trio of Silver Fox Rabbits? They are beautiful, they are hardy, and they are a little bit of American history to add to my hutches. The breed is listed as “Threatened” by The Livestock Conservancy so I am quite honored to have some potential part in bringing them back. I really am very impressed by them. Go here to read up on why. I think I will go looking for a second, unrelated male in a year or so, after I build more hutches, apparently.
It’s the season for building and repairing, after all. Butchering is the last big step in the annual cycle of events, and there is a lot of prep work to do before soil tests/amendments, rabbit breeding, and kidding all start in February. There’s a huge section of fence to go in, garden boxes to be repaired, and better hutches to build. I got the current additional ones as part of the deal but they’re falling apart. The tannery and the Itty Baby Forge are calling my name.
The work never really ends. It’s rough right now because we’re still doing more building than maintaining. It’s going to stay rough until we shift to more maintaining than building, probably in the next three years, give or take. Happy Fall, y’all. It’s its own kind of busy.