Friday, March 28, 2014

Late March in Pictures

Little Eli
Snowdrop's little buckling Eli has lot's of spunk,
 he likes to jump off the highest rocks and run the fastest.

First Day Outside
Our beautiful Lamancha goat Zolena gave birth to triplets a few nights ago, 2 bucklings and a doeling. Our kidding season is now complete.  I've been having fun this March with 8 goat babies running around jumping, leaping and playing.  Spring smiles!

Kisses Say, "I Love You"
Our little Golden Retriever puppy giving kisses to Dad.

Good Morning Alarm Clock
We  have 2 roosters born and raised here, they have 25 hens between them and each has their own faithful harem following.  They're the early morning alarm clock around here, and when I say early, I'm talking around 4:30, the first crows happen slowly, then increase as the sun rises.  Luckily we enjoy our roosters and their crowing.  It helps that they're not too close to the house, so the sound is nice and lets us know the sun will be up soon.

"The Redheads"
Our family has beautiful redhead girls, daughter Tessa and our little girl dog Summer.

Playing in the Spring Sun
I'm enjoying life with all the goat kids this Spring.  
This little Nigerian  Doeling is adorable and loves to crawl in my lap for pets, I'm thinking of the name Elsie for her.  I'm trying to have them all named with E names, since that's the letter for the year for the ADGA, the American Dairy Goat Association.  

Last night on my way home from town, I paused to admire the 
evening painting in the sky and the beautiful silhouettes.

Ruby Red Rhubarb

Rhubarb pie baking season has officially arrived

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This Morning

I took my camera out this morning to capture a little of my daily routine.  I am bottle feeding the 5 little doelings that are in the bottom right corner. They get fed first in the morning, I sit on a stool with them clamoring about with 2 bottles.  They have to take turns, and that's easier said than done.  As I'm feeding them, I watch the sun rise through the meadow.  It lights up the house, highlighting the smoke coming from the chimney, then it lands on the goat feeder, which is where Jersey and Dahlia are laying and waiting for breakfast and milking.  

I feed the babies first, then the goats and chickens, next I milk the three does.  After that I feed the rabbits, the feeding order goes by who is the loudest and the goats win.  Mornings are busy with roosters crowing, goats calling to be fed or milked, and kids jumping about playing all the while.  The rabbits are quiet and always fun to say "hi" to when I feed them in the morning. After I got back inside this morning, I decided to sit down and put together a photo collage for my 365 project that I'm working on.  I'll tell you more about that in another post.     

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Our new cat Kalua came home from work with my husband as a kitten this last Fall.  He had watched the mom raise her litter of kittens, and as they got older, he decided this beautiful, and extra friendly one, would be just perfect to join our animal family here at Applegarth.  He was right, she purrs and hops up in our lap for pets, and she loves to hang out with me in the garden on sunny mornings, just like Dutchess used to do.  Our oldest cat Dutchess passed away last Summer, she was almost 20 years old and we found her under the comfrey plants looking peaceful and asleep, her spirit had passed away... being comforted I imagine under the comfrey.  I missed her so much, she was a daily part of my life since my oldest daughter was only four years old when we got her as a kitten.  Now, I have another cat to love, both her wonderful spirit and her captivating blue eyes. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Farm Fresh Eggs

The girls are really beginning to lay well again by this time of the year.  We're gathering around 18 eggs per day, now that we're in the middle of March.  The meadow grass is beginning to grow, along with the dandelions.  The chickens love to eat them, Spring eggs are extra special if the chickens can eat fresh greens.

Spring Goat Kids

Our little Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat Snowdrop had beautiful triplets one week ago.  The next day was sunny and 60 degrees, so in the afternoon I brought them all outside for about 15 minutes to enjoy the sun, meet the other goats and take a few pic's, then I hurried them all back into their cozy nest in the barn.  Snowdrop had twin doelings pictured above, and all three kids pictured below with the dark handsome buck on the left, we may keep him for the Fall breeding season.  I love all of the colors and markings each kid this year. 

Our Nubian Jersey and I were up all night this past Thursday night as she delivered twin doelings pictured below, they are melt your heart cute, and are miniature replica's of Jersey. She was bred to a Nigerian, so these are miniature Nubians.  We are lucky this year to have 4 doelings so far, now just our Lamancha Zolena is left and she's due this Friday, I hope she has at least one doeling too.

    We've been loving all the Spring babies and new life everywhere we look! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

American Chinchilla and Cinnamon Rabbits

We added a beautiful breeding pair of Cinnamon rabbits to our herd over the winter, they are the "spice" of the rabbit world and we are excited to have them join our rabbit family. Cinnamon's are a true American Heritage breed of rabbit, created in Montana in 1972. They're a  larger breed and grow to between 9 and 11 pounds.  With their unique coloring and wonderful temperament these rabbits are very attractive and useful as meat, fur, show, and pet.  The Cinnamon coloring is a gorgeous dusty tan with a bright orange undercolor, dark shaded tips to the guard hair, with the shading gradually increasing down the sides and extremities of the rabbit until the belly of the rabbit is a stormy gray with pearl undercolor.

The mother of the doe in the bottom left picture is the National Champion Best of Breed Cinnamon Rabbit and the buck above and below on the right comes from the same breeder.  I like to start with the best genetics I can find locally, and in this case we have a top breeder in the next town East towards the mountains. By the end of Summer when these rabbits are around 8 months old, they'll be ready for breeding.

A little history about the Cinnamon Rabbit breed.
During the Easter season of 1962 2 kids by the name of Belle and Fred Houseman of Missoula, Montana were given a young Chinchilla doe. Later they received a New Zealand buck. They crossbred these two for babies that their father, Ellis, believed should be used for meat, but young Belle begged her father to let her keep one of the crossbred bucks as a family pet. The children joined the 4-h group and used their crossbred meat rabbits as their project. They were then given an unwanted Checkered Giant and a crossed Californian doe which they mated with Belle’s pet buck and in this litter was a russet shaded 

They again bred the Checkered to the same buck and another rusty colored rabbit appeared, then one day their doe produced two russet colored rabbits. Ellis Houseman told his kids that they needed to be keeping only purebred rabbits to show, but this time Fred, with tears in his eyes, begged his father to let him keep the pair of brownish rabbits from the last litter. Ellis agreed.They mated the pair together and 70 percent of the litter was this russet shaded color, which they began calling Cinnamon.

Dad then began taking notice of these unusual shaded colored rabbits, and also noticed the sheen in the coats. Ellis showed these experimental rabbits to J. Cyril Lowett, Oregon Judge and ARBA board member. He felt they had possibilities and said there was not another breed like them in the U.S.  In 1972 the breed was approved.  Cinnamon's are on the rare breeds rabbit list for the ALBC (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy).  

Pictured below is a portion of our rabbitry, with another 3 smaller hutches not visible, we have 8 holes currently and are adding another 7, we plan to stay at 15 holes.  Starting the season we have 5 American Chinchilla's for breeding, 3 does and 2 bucks, along with the Cinnamon breeding pair.  We have found that by having breeding stock of both bucks and does out of non related stock we can double our sales, and often sell 2 or 3 rabbits at a time, rather than just one at a time.

A young American Chinchilla doe I kept from a breeding last year out of Zelpha and Melvin, her name is Diamond and she was just bred to a young buck I kept from last year.  Serendipity below was my first American Chinchilla and is my foundation doe, she has been a wonderful rabbit, and her son Sterling is the mate for the doe Diamond above.

American Chinchilla's are an especially nice breed of rabbit to raise, they are one of the few breeds of rabbit that originated in the United States. Credit for developing this breed cannot be given to one breeder. Several American breeders wanted to produce a larger bodied rabbit than the Standard Chinchilla for larger pelts and more meat. Development began in the 1920’s and was originally known as the Heavyweight Chinchilla. In 1924 the breed was accepted by the ARBA and the name was changed to the American Chinchilla.

The American Chinchilla rabbits are large and hardy but  gentle. Mature bucks weigh 9 to 11 lbs and mature does weigh 10 to 12 lbs. the does are known for producing large litters, averaging 7 to 10 kits per litter. They are known for having good mothering instincts and the kits reach market weight quickly. When you first see this rabbit it appears salt and peppered colored, but when the fur is blown into 4 distinct bands of color appears. They attract a lot of attention at shows because of their large size and their fur is so soft and beautiful.
One reason I raise this breed, aside from the fact that they're beautiful and productive, is that by raising them we're helping bring back a heritage breed that is on the critical list with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and on the “Rare Breed Rabbits” list.  


A breeding trio I sold over the winter, 2 does and one buck, they're all so beautiful, aren't they?  Below is Zelpha and one of her albino daughters.  The first kindling Zelpha ever had last year I went out to peek in the nest box and was shocked to find an all pink kit, I was just thrilled, and ran inside to tell everyone what I found in the nest box! After researching it some more I realized that in the American Chinchilla breed if both the buck and doe that breed have the c- gene they will throw albino kits.  Now, this is not ideal for some, but for me I was excited to know we could consistently get some white rabbits for their fur. She had one albino kit her first litter, 3 the second, and 4 albino kits the 3rd kindling.  I have a buck now with the c+ gene and the two of them will not throw albino kits.  For Spring and Summer kits that I want to sell, I'll breed those two and for the Fall and Winter kits that we  mostly raise for meat and fur I'll breed her with Melvin for a few white ones.

American Chinchilla doe, Zelpha pictured above and below.

My husband is building a new set of hutches for me, now with the addition of the Cinnamon's we need more room.  We're doing an entirely different design, rather than wood that is difficult to clean and sanitize, we're building it out of galvanized metal and wire with a strong roof and removable wood panels for siding.  This is so we can pressure wash and clean thoroughly several times per year.  We're also planning to fence the entire rabbitry to keep the dogs out, and allow the rabbits a nice big exercise paddock. 

Melvin our senior buck above is a total sweetheart and loves attention, he will always give a good greeting and is a pleasure to tend to everyday, well, actually all of my rabbits bring me enjoyment, some are just more personable than others.  If you're wondering what happened to our Champagne d' Argent rabbits, I sold them all to one lady last Summer.  I decided I only needed one breed of silver and gray rabbit, rather than two breeds of the same color. The rabbits have truly been one of my favorite parts of homesteading, they're the perfect small scale permaculture farm animal.  They've provided our family with a fun hobby, along with delicious meat, luxurious furs to make things with, and the best compost for our garden.