24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable garden’

Homemade compost tumbler

I’ve been wanting a compost tumbler.  We generate enough yard, rabbit, and kitchen waste, I should be able to make some slammin’ compost!

Where my uncle works, they get plenty of things in 55-gallon metal drums, so we were able to get one for free (Thank you, Uncle’s boss!).  It had some sort of solvent/denatured alcohol stuff in it, so we let it air for a long, long time.  Months.  I know these barrels aren’t normally favored for this, but by the time Shay started working on it, the residue was gone.  It just smelled of rusty drum.  Some cement, some wood, some wheels, and some hardware, and Shay has turned it into a compost tumbler for me.

My new compost tumbler!

It rides on wheels, and is turned by a handle on the side. I do have to be careful as I am bringing the handle back up and around, that I don't lift it off of the wheels. Occasionally, it does start to roll off track, but, as long as I keep an eye on one of the wheels, I catch it quickly and just reverse the direction until it pops back into place.

Holes drilled in the ends, and in a row along the bottom, ensure good air flow through the contents and also help release excess water.

A file made these edges safe. I don't run my fingers along them on purpose, but I shouldn't get cut on them by accident.

I’ve already filled it up with dropped hay, bunny berries, garden trimmings, and such.  Now I just need to paint it black!

I rotate it every day or two, spraying the contents with water when needed.  We don’t have a lawn mower (my grandmother made my uncle get rid of it so he wouldn’t mow the yard anymore because of his age — so someone else cuts the yard), so I can’t grind the stuff up before I put it in there.  This will make it take longer to turn to compost than if I was able to shred everything up really fine.  Oh, well.

Shay admits that it cost more in the end than he expected because of the hardware (had to be suitable for outdoors), but I have a compost tumbler, and I’m happy! :)

To say that I haven’t posted much lately would be a bit of an understatement.  Yes, I could have, but once you get behind, it’s hard to play catch-up.  Do you really get behind on a blog, or can you just jump back in?

Anyway, much of my time lately has been taken up by bunnies and gardening.

Squeak’s most recent litter, now 4 weeks old, was not getting enough milk — Squeak was not producing enough.  So we took up baby bunny feeding.

Fluffy’s most recent litter, now 10 days old, doesn’t like staying in the nest box.  Therefore, they keep going missing, and we keep finding them huddled on the walkway, waiting to be either stepped on (we haven’t done that yet, thank goodness) or picked up, or worse.  So we’ve been spending some time looking for baby bunnies.  Bunny-Wan Kenobi found one of the poor things outside the rabbitry.  It was less than a week old, and died of exposure.  One has never been found, and is probably under the rabbitry frame.  They’re not big enough yet to be too big to fit through the cage wire.  I’ll be installing babysaver wire soon.  I hadn’t needed it before!

The garden has been putting out cucumbers and tomatoes like nobody’s business (thank goodness I planted only one cucumber plant!).  This has caused me to venture into canning, something I was planning to do.  Yesterday and today, I finally canned my first vegetable victims ever!

So far:

8 pints of bread & butter pickles

10 pints of dill spears

A bunch of tomato sauce that I’ve been using so fast, I haven’t had a chance to can it.  But, not to worry — there are probably two more buckets’ worth of tomatoes out there ready to pick now!

I have also been waging war against bugs trying to demolish my garden.  First cutworms, then squash vine borers, then armyworms, and, finally, flea beetles.  It’s difficult to find something that will kill flea beetles without killing bees.  I like bees.  I NEED bees.  And I haven’t seen a lot of bees, so I certainly don’t want to kill the ones that do make it around here!

We also planted a bunch of dwarf fruit trees in containers.  My beloved Shay built a composter that I have already filled up.  My uncle and I went to war against a bunch of invasive vines that he has been battling for decades (maybe we can finally, FINALLY kill them!).  They’ve been growing all over the ligustrum hedge along the back fence for all this time, and sometimes putting runners out into the yard.  With my grandmother’s stroke and illness over the last couple of years of her life, and then with our moving in, the vines have put out many, many runners.  So we’re spraying them with some Roundup product (poison ivy plus tough brush, or something like that) in order to get control.  It seems to be working on the vines on the ligustrums.  Let’s hope it works on the poison ivy, too.

I have so much more to do!

A trip to the feed store, canning tomatoes,  filing an amended return for my mom, spraying more vines, planting new squash plants, finding a dehydrator, treating fur mites on Fluffy’s babies (all those trips outside they’ve been taking), a lot of kitchen cleanup…

I miss Mammaw.  She was my great-grandmother.  She could cook, sew (an amazing seamstress, she was!), crochet, knit, embroider, and can.  I can cook.  I need to learn how to sew and can.  I’m sure I would learn faster (and do it faster!) if someone who knew how to do it was with me.  This is my mom’s first time canning, too.  No, I don’t miss Mammaw just for all the useful info she could give me, I miss her for herself, too.  :)

Preparing for the Future

A few of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted on the solar oven project in a while.  It’s merely been paused while I work on some other things, and I will resume work on it shortly after New Year’s.

So what are the other things?

Well, for starters, Christmas is coming.  We don’t go crazy for Christmas, preferring to keep it a bit more low-key and respectful, but there are still things to be done.  One BIG thing is the family calendar.  Every year, we take copious amounts of pictures, and in November and December I select the best and put together a family calendar.  Each month has a collage of five or six pictures (mainly of the kids), and most of the pictures have captions.  I print them myself (about 24 calendars) because I haven’t found an office store yet that can print them as well as I can.  I put a lot of effort and time into it, and it gets rave reviews from family.  :)

We’ve also had some medical issues lately.  My mom developed shingles, and I wouldn’t wish this very painful resurgence of the chickenpox virus on my worst enemy.  My son, Bunny-Wan Kenobi, got a couple of eczema patches on his hands, which I fought and fought.  Finally, I had to take him to the doctor, and it turned out the eczema had gotten infected.  So he got an antibiotic, as well as a topical steroid that’s stronger than OTC hydrocortizone.  Then he had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic after a week of being on it, which prompted a prescription for a strong antihistamine to fight the hives.  I also ended up pulling out some long-unused Nystatin to treat a yeast outbreak in the eczema.  He’s also been having to have Aquaphor (I got the generic!) put on his hands and up his arms, and he’s wearing long socks on his arms to bed.

Poor child!  He was delighted to finish the antihistamine today (apparently it tasted pretty vile — “imagine that it tastes like grape, but then make it very, very sour…”), and he’s counting the days until he can stop the topical steroid and the Aquaphor up his arms and the socks.  I’ll continue the Nystatin on him, and start him on Benadryl since the rash isn’t completely gone yet.  He’s also supposed to apply a small amount of Aquaphor to his hands every few times he washes them.  It’s like being back with him as a baby, when his skin would just go haywire and I’d have to use a prescription eczema cream, Nystatin, and Bactroban all together to get it back to normal.

But another thing that has been taking my attention is something that has to do with preparing for the future.

With the way things are going currently, and the legislation that has been passed and is still coming down the pike, we believe that the hard times in this country have only begun.  The numbers that show there is a recovery going on are the result of a big shell game.

With that in mind, it is only wise to prepare.  This is why we raise meat rabbits.  But another thing we are working toward is starting a vegetable garden.  That takes money, especially in our case.  The yard regularly is wetter than it ought to be, because we live at the bottom of a hill and our yard was engineered (why?!?) as an overflow for heavy rains.  This means that any vegetable gardens I have will need to be in raised beds.

Okay, so where to get the money?  Well, when we moved in here with my uncle, this house was already packed to the gills with stuff.  My grandmother and grandfather bought this house.  My great-grandmother lived here for years.  My uncle moved back in to help care for my grandfather, then my great-grandmother, and finally my grandmother.

So there are many things around the house that are no longer in use.  Clothes, shoes, etc.  Most of the sizes are smaller than any of the three girls (myself, my mom, and my daughter) that live here now, so there is no one to wear them.  My uncle is graciously allowing me to sell a good bit of it on eBay to raise money for garden plots.  I’ve been at it for a couple of months now.  Shay has also sold some of his model trains to help out, and we’re doing pretty well so far.  It is going to take a while to go through everything and have it all posted and sold.

In whatever situation you find yourself, please do what you can yourself to prepare.  Any food you can produce on your own is a step toward immunity from hard times.  In the Great Depression, the people who were least affected were the farm families and others who had large gardens and kept chickens and such.  Even if you live in an apartment, there are things you can do… just do some searches, and you’ll find there are others who have figured out ways to grow vegetables at their apartments.  Even if you end up not needing everything you produce, you will be in a position to help others.