Squash in the Pick-up Truck (2020)

Squash in the pick-up truck

We were expecting a big rain about a week after some light frosts killed all the leaves on the squash except the butternut growing on the compost pile. So we grabbed the ripe ones that remained unpicked and got them into dry storage to cure.

The results confirm our interest in specializing in Blue Hubbard squash in our newly-cleared cucurbit patch. We have until June (2021) to work on the usability and fertility of that area so we can have a field full of large blue alien eggs by the end of next fall!

Also see: Plants we grow and recommend for our climate

Raising Rabbits

Alex with the young male rabbit

We have now embarked on a new farm adventure: raising meat rabbits.

We headed down to Unity, NH on Monday to meet a nice lady who keeps many kinds of animals on her farm: horses, sheep, beef, chickens, and rabbits.

“Pezzi” is the full-grown doe we bought there. She’s a Flemish Giant / California cross, so she’s pretty big. She was bred to a pure New Zealand White male unrelated to her or to the young male we got. I had thought that the lady I got her from would have taken care of that before I arrived, but she put her in the male’s cage when I got there and it happened three times in rapid succession, right in front of me.

Pezzi the breeding doe
Pezzi the breeding doe

The young male is such a cutie. He’s a New Zealand / Flemish cross, with a bit of Cali. The two rabbits are living in separate halves of a 4’x4′ shelter that I’m still putting the finishing touches on.

Young male rabbit
Our young male rabbit

We are making our own hay for the rabbits to supplement their pellet feed, using a regular push-mower and raking it up when it’s dried out. My son is in charge of that. For now, we’re storing it in kitchen-sized garbage bags in the greenhouse. This breeding pair can expect a nice long lifespan; it’s their children that will be providing the meat in the future. With a gestation period of about a month, and a weaning age of about six weeks, we should be able to re-breed her before Halloween (though not with our male, who will still be too young) and harvest the males from the first litter at “fryer” size around mid-January.

I recently was reminded that my great-grandfather raised rabbits. I was asking my mom about what her mother told her about living through the Great Depression, and that was one of the ways they kept food on the table. I hope that things don’t get that bad again, but the economy seems somewhat uncertain now. It was a bit scary when the meat-packing plants had to close down for COVID-19, and localizing food sources seems like the right thing to do–not just for us, but for anyone who can.

This is my first time raising rabbits, so I’m no expert. Here are some of the sources I found helpful, though:

I’ve also been watching a lot of homesteading / small farm videos lately. I’m a fan of Polyface farm’s methods. I’ve been enjoying hearing about and seeing the farms featured in Justin Rhodes’ YouTube channel. Here are a few videos I found helpful or inspiring for embarking on this rabbit-raising adventure:

More to come! Stay tuned, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram with the links below.

Raising Rocks and Reds

Lounging hens

We ordered 36 baby chicks from Ideal Poultry that arrived about July 16. Half were Plymouth Barred Rocks, and half were Rhode Island Reds. We got mostly females, with two males of each type so we could breed them next year.

We lost a few in the beginning, and sold almost half of the rest when they were four to six weeks old. They are thriving on the farm! Because we got them so late in the year, they won’t be old enough to lay eggs until mid-winter., which is usually a slow time for egg-laying. That means we won’t be getting a lot of eggs until Spring.

Plymouth Rock Rooster
Plymouth Rock Rooster
Plymouth Rock Pullet
Plymouth Rock Pullet