Archive | April 2015

Spring time bunnies and blue eyed whites!

I apologize if you came to this post expecting to see bunnies frolicking in my yard.  First and foremost because we don’t really have a yard, but also because the bunnies are from my herd of New Zealand / Flemish / Rex mixes.  I started raising rabbits 3 years ago as a healthy, alternative meat supply.  At the time I was also raising quail in my suburban backyard, but that is another story.

I started with a pair of New Zealand / Flemish mixes that worked out great.  I grew the “herd” from the two up to three does and a buck.  I breed for a couple of litters a year to go easy on the does and as we used the meat.  At that point I started selling my excess to have cash to buy feed and make it a more sustainable operation.  The problem was that I had basically albino bunnies, white with scary red eyes.  The market was a little limited.

One day after spending way too much time online, I ran across blue eyed white bunnies.  They were calling them Sinatra’s.  This is all based on the Vienna gene which is responsible for the blue eyes.  They were unique and people thought they were cute, so began my journey to create a good meat rabbit that was white with blue eyes.  I told myself it was to make they easier to sell, but really it was just for the challenge of doing something like this to add another level of interest to my rabbit hobby.  🙂

So I bought what I thought were three Rex rabbits (1 doe and 2 bucks) that had the Vienna gene from an out of state breeder.  One was a blue eyed white, the other two just had the gene.  It was only after delivery I discovered I had 3 bucks.  Oh well, I had the gene I needed.  So I began a breeding program with my larger meat rabbits does (NZW/Flemish) and the new bucks.  My goal is to get a larger stock than the original Rex’s, but with the awesome smooth soft fur of the original rabbits.  After only a couple rounds (generations) of breeding I have finally a spring 2015 litter with 3 blue eyed whites.  They are only two weeks old so I am waiting patiently to see how big they get and how soft their fur ends up.

Okay enough talk, here of some pictures to ooohhh and aahhh over!  🙂  Sorry a little grainy.

Grey Blue Eye

Little grey blue eyed bunny

All Blue Eye

Little group of blue eyed bunnies

Blue Eyed Whites

Little blue eyed white bunnies

Chickens for real this time!

This is part 1 of several post about our chickens.  It starts before we moved to Stone Hill Ridge.  We lived in the city and according to city code were not allowed to have chickens unless we had at least three acres, which we did not.

So I got a copy of the actual code and it was VERY specific, not chickens, ducks, turkey, or guinea fowl.  So I got to thinking what else is there that isn’t specific excluded.  Ostriches weren’t going to work so I went with quail.  For more on that check out Backyard Quail

That went well for a while and then the city changed the code to allow chickens under certain rules.  For example no more than 6 chickens and no roosters.  So we got some chicks and built a coop.  

City Coop

City coop with rabbit cages

We had also been raising rabbits (more on that later) so we built rabbit cages on the side of the coop. 

The chicks were 3 white leghorn and 3 brown leghorn.  Much to our surprised they all survived to adulthood and started laying.  We had plenty of fresh eggs as did friends and neighbors.

Fast forward to now, because there was no pre-existing buildings or an easy way to move the old coop we gifted the leghorns to a co- worker when we sold the house.

Next up we build the new Stone Hill Ridge coop with plenty of pictures

Technology and the woods!

So one of our first orders of business was to secure some technology.  Come to find out AFTER we bought the house that the internet stopped just three telephone poles short of reaching us.  This is sort of a big deal since I work mostly from home.  There are services like satellite for service, but none of them would work for my needs due to latency (slowness) or data limitations.

So I contacted the local cable company to see if they would consider extending the line.  The person I called was none to helpful, just confirmed we could not get service to our site.  So I decided to go old school, while my wife laughed at me, and wrote two letters.  Yep, used a stamp and everything.  One went to the local office and an exact copy went to the corporate offices.  About a week later I got a call from the corporate office and a very nice gentlemen said he would have someone call me within 24-48 hours.  Oh well!

Oh well indeed, not 45 minutes later another person called and again I explained the situation.  He said he would get a technician assigned to come out and do an estimate on what it would take to extend the line.  Oh well again!

Oh well indeed, again!  🙂  About 1 hour and half later there was a knock at the door.  The technician said he had seen where the line ended up the hill and would be getting together an estimate.  Then he explained the gentlemen who had contacted him would get back to me once the estimate was complete. (skipping the oh well)

The next day the second gentlemen called me back.  He said the normal course of business was that if the estimate was less than $3000 then they just do it.  Anything above that the customer could pay for if they wanted the service.  He then explained it would cost $27,000 to extend the line for me.  WHAT!!!!!  It is only three telephone poles, maybe a couple hundred yards at most.   I thanked him kindly for his time and decided to not to get the line extended.

Long story that ends with us using wireless service from our cell phone provider.  It has data limits, but the speed is good (LTE) and has worked out well so far.


Dream come true!

All my life I knew I wasn’t meant for the city. Although I grew up in a suburb of a decent size city, I always was more comfortable in the country. It all came together when our youngest child graduated high school. At the time I had chickens in our suburban backyard, was raising quail and rabbits as well had an ever expanding garden. We started looking for a new house to do a little downsizing of the house and up-sizing of the yard. I told my wife I wanted the new place to be described in X number of acres and there had to be water, the rest was her choice. I am very happy with the new place, but I should have been a little clearer.

Which is where the name comes from, Stone Hill Ridge. We live in a valley between a couple of steep rocky ridges. Stone Hill is an accurate description of the soil conditions. The water, well it is a river. While I would have preferred a lake or a pond, at least I don’t have to maintain it, i.e. stock it, fix leaking dam, etc.

So this blog is about our journey to transform this rugged landscape into something that benefits nature as a whole and of course us.

This entry was posted on April 7, 2015, in homestead.