Our winter has been relatively mild. It flip flops between freezing weather and warm. This week it's warm.
This is about the time I get busy. There are seeds to start, gardens to clean, and preparations to make for upcoming births. But we've had a few births already!
Rabbits: It was impossible to find another Blue New Zealand buck. We lost ours through an accidental escape.
We finally decided to go for mixed breed bunnies. Our original plan was to have pure blue New Zealands so we could sell them to 4H clubs and to people who prefer pure-breeds, but since we never found a Blue locally, we decided just to raise rabbits for our table and not for sale.
We found Frodo. He's a mutt (a New Zealand cross), but he's friendly and manageable.
Ruby, our white New Zealand, and Belle, our blue New Zealand each delivered six and five bunnies respectively. Each of them were excellent mothers.The bunnies are healthy and rambunctious.
They were born during a freak cold snap but we prepared ahead of time and super insulated their enclosure. Everyone made it fine without a hitch. I used to go in there just to get warm myself.
Chickens: The Marans must've heard I was planning to put them on the chopping block because they all started behaving again. Not one has been eating her eggs.
Unfortunately, I will have to replace the black Australorp. They are way older than I should've let them go and their egg production has gone into decline. I'm just waiting for them to start laying enough eggs for me to incubate. The only one who's staying is the rooster. He's a well-mannered boy and still does his job.
The only other breed I have left are two Americaunas, a rooster and hen. I think the hen stopped laying all together, but I'd like to sell or give away the rooster because he's gorgeous. He's a nice bird too. There's not a mean bone in his body.
Goats: The girls are pregnant, but I'm not sure when they'll deliver. The boys got in with the girls on two different occasions on someone else's watch. (I had been sick.) Since the deed had probably already been done, I allowed the boys run with the girls earlier than I had planned. I'm hoping it'll be a March delivery, but there's no way to know until they get closer to the date.
The big news--and sad too--is that we might be getting out of the goat business for a while. After the girls deliver and the babies are weaned, we're thinking of selling the whole lot. We'd like to do some traveling while we're still young but I have no one fearless enough to walk into the goat pen. They're a little intimidating to the uninitiated and I don't want to burden anyone. They're not mean, just pushy--and stubborn. If you're not used to goaty ways, it can be overwhelming.
We've managed to rig up a feeder to auto-feed for four days at a time, but that's no good for longer trips. I hate the thought of selling them, but I haven't been able to come up with another solution. If we do sell, we'll probably get smaller dairy goats when the time comes to get goats again. With any luck they'll be more docile and less intimidating.
Bees: No, not yet. Greg and I were looking into it. We estimated it'll cost us upwards of $500 to get started properly. He was willing to invest, but I think we have too many projects for this year. With it being his first year of retirement, I'd like to see how our cash flow lines out before we start something new.
I'm really surprised Greg is interested in beekeeping since he was deathly allergic to bee stings as a child. He's since gotten stung as an adult and didn't get as strong a reaction so I'm hoping the allergy has dissipated over the years.
Garden: I still have spinach, bok choy and last year's onions and garlic in the garden, but it's time for me to clean out the beds and get them prepped for planting. I've started a few seeds already. I'm also going in with a friend of mine to buy whole flats of tomato and pepper seedlings. She gets them wholesale so it's win-win for me.
My new onion sets will go in the ground this week, but I'll wait until March 1st to plant my potatoes.
I have a full time helper this year so I'm hoping it'll be a more successful garden year.
Energy: My helper also has a project of his own. He's been researching vertical wind generators. He's come up with some pretty interesting ideas. Wind generators are very popular in Texas and there are so many different designs available. He wants something he can build and install on his own.
I'm all for anything that will help defray the cost of electricity. It's one of our biggest expenses.
All in all, 2015 looks promising. Is anyone planning a garden this year? What's your favorite fruit or veggie to grow? Do you know anyone allergic to bee venom?