Monday, April 30, 2012

Spaquaponics up and running

I was doing searches on the internet for hot tubs made into aquaponics systems and came across a video where the man called his Spaquaponics.  I thought that was clever and decided to steal the name for my blog. 

I think I have everything where it belongs but I'm wondering if my tubs are filling up too fast or too full.  Time will tell.  All grow beds fill and drain as I'd like after lots of tweaking.  I probably think about it too much but right now I can't help but be preoccupied with it.   I've read it should take 4 to 6 weeks, if all goes well, till I can expect the bacterias, nitrates, etc. to be in balance so fish and plants can live in harmony.  I videoed it running today.  I'm afraid it's not a very exciting video but it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goat milk for bunnies

Two and a half days ago I went to feed the rabbits and discovered the second mama bunny had either kicked her kids out of the nest or somehow some had squeezed through the holes of her cage and fallen on the floor.  She didn't use the nesting box I gave her and had them in the corner of the cage.  There were a few tiny dead ones in there which I think had been dead for a few days because they were teeny tiny and skinny, while others were plumper and at least 2 inches bigger.  I was able to save 2 of the bigger ones who were still warm but not very lively. 

I took them indoors and put them under a heat lamp in a cardboard box with a towel.  I got a syringe and filled it with warm goat milk and gave them just a few drops once they had warmed up.  That's all they'd take.  I really didn't think they'd survive a day but they're still alive and eating more.  Today one of them peed in my hand and it seemed like way too much fluid for a bunny that size only drinking 5 or 6 drops of milk 3 or 4 times a day.  Their eyes aren't open yet but they're getting more lively.  They want to slip out of my hand like a slippery bar of soap when I hold them for feeding.

The first 8 bunnies that were born a week earlier are doing great and have grown a lot.  They're so much cuter when their eyes open.  I hope I can raise the tiny ones as well as this mama has so they look like this in another week. 
Today I relocated chickens.  I had 17 in one coop but had 9 other younger ones who needed to get out of our basement and into that coop so I moved both groups to new homes.  I have eggs in the incubator that should hatch tomorrow or the next day who will move to the basement.  I haven't heard any peeping from these eggs so I don't know if any will hatch or not. 

After disbudding some goat kids today for a friend he gave me some red and gold pheasant eggs so they'll go in the incubator once these others come out.  I hope they hatch.  The boy pheasants are so pretty.  The girls are rather plain.  Here's a picture of a male.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Heaven Scent Farm commented on my blog from yesterday and guessed I was working on a hydroponics project.   Very close.  I'm building an aquaponics system.  Someone else guessed a wine fountain:)  I'll have fish in the hot tub.  Right now I'm thinking catfish.  The water from the fish tank will be pumped up into my gardens.  The plants, which will be growing in just water and pebbles, will feed on the nutrients from the fish waste.  The vegetables will take what they need and clean the water and provide more oxygen for the fish.   The water will drain from the gardens back into the fish tank.  It's a recirculating ecosystem.  Cool huh?  I can't wait till I have it up and running so I can explain it to you better with pictures and video.  There are lots of videos on Youtube of aquaponic systems and I got many ideas from there.

It rained much of today but I still got a few things figured out.  First I built a frame out of 2x6's for the top of half of the hot tub.  Two kiddie pools will sit on top this frame.  These will be grow beds for vegetables.  There will be at least 3 more smaller grow beds off to the other side of the hot tub.  It's going to be interesting trying to figure out how many plants it's going to take to support a fish tank this size.  I think I'm going to need more grow beds.

Using a hole saw I removed a 3/4 inch circle for the drain.

I made a bell syphon out of a 2" piece of pvc which is a few inches taller than the drain pipe.  I notched out the bottom with my dremel so water can enter.  Near the top I drilled a hole and put a piece of 1/4 inch tubing which I fastened down near the bottom with a zip tie.  The pvc is capped at the top.  When the water level reaches the top of the drain pipe it will quickly drain the grow bed.  I tried mine out in a small plastic container and it worked beautifully.  That was exciting.

So the bell syphon is placed on top the drain pipe.  You can see a marker line which shows the level of the pipe so I'd know when the water should start rushing out.  On top the bell syphon I will put a larger piece of pvc which I drilled holes in to act as a filter so no gravel or other sediment will get into the syphon. 

In the second picture you can see I started cutting and gluing together the pipe which will feed water to all the beds.  I'll include some ball valves so I can control the water flow from the pump to the beds just in case some are getting more than the others. 

This is a fun project. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I love puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles, whatever.  Okay, maybe not math puzzles.  I'm not good at them.  I think I love building things because it's a big puzzle and everything needs to fit just right into its place to make something whole. 

I've started a new puzzle.  Here are the pieces.  Can you tell what I'm building?

Some of you may like puzzles too so I'm not going to tell you what it's going to be just yet.  I'll let you think about it.  Tomorrow I hope to make much progress and will post more pictures which will give you more clues.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'd love a glass of your homemade wine.

I love getting real mail.  You know, the paper kind that shows up in your mailbox at the end of your driveway.  I got something that made me laugh today and I'm going to share it with you.
I drink and serve my homemade wine all the time.  Yeah, I'm not fooled by the "this is great".  So, all you guests who think you're being polite and are laughing at me when you go home, HA! I'm laughing too.  What cheap guests!  They think I think they think I think I'm getting away with something.  Ok, I have no idea if that makes sense.  I'm under the influence of homemade wine.  

Yes, Virg and Linda (my friends who sent me the cartoon), I've made turnip wine, but it's mixed with beets, not rhubarb. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Head count

Every now and then someone asks how many chickens or how many animals I have.  I almost never know.  Tonight I decided to write them all down.  These numbers change very quickly.  I have 11 eggs in the incubator so if all goes well the chicken number will change in another week.  Twenty turkeys are due to arrive in early May but I'm not counting them either.  Also, I may have 2 more rabbits having babies this weekend so the rabbit number could grow in a hurry.  I recounted the rabbits born earlier this week and somehow I missed a few.  It looks like there are 8 of them.  I can't help but pick them up and inspect them.  I didn't know there were black ones in the nest too until tonight even though now that I look at last night's picture I see them very clearly.  They're growing fur very quickly.   Ok, here's my count.

36 chickens, 1 parrot, 3 dogs, 1 pregnant pig, 18 rabbits (I think), 5 donkeys, 18 goats (one is  pregnant).  Did I miss anything?  That makes a total of 82 as of today. 

We do have a few other animals in our house that I didn't include in the count.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's up Doc?

This is what's up.
 Some wascally wabbits were born.  Six of them.
I won't say they're cute yet but it is kind of sweet seeing these pink little things that kind of resemble rabbits.  They were born two nights ago but I was afraid to blog about them in case they were gone or dead this morning.  I'm still a bit hesitant about saying I've successfully bred a rabbit since I've been such a failure in the past.  Here's the mama.  I was going to say, proud mama, but I'm not really sure if she's proud or not.  At least she hasn't eaten them and she made them a nice warm nest of fur. 
Maybe I should name her something other than black bunny.  Good job Mama Black Bunny.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy birthday, puppies

We called Rosie and Lex "the puppies" for at least the first 8 years of their lives.  Today the puppies are 11 years old.  That's pretty old for boxers.  Our last boxer died from cancer at 9.  Lately we've been worried about Rosie because she's had old dog issues which I'm sure she'd rather I not talk about so I won't embarrass her.  The past few days she's seemed just fine and tears about like she always did.  Yes, the puppies sleep more and have aging bodies, but for the most part they're pretty happy, energetic dogs who have brought a lot of joy to our lives. 

We have lots of April birthdays at our house.  First was Yogi, our parrot. He's 15 this year and just as silly as always.  His vocabulary continues to grow.  I'm sure he's up to hundreds of words and sounds by now.

Next was James.  He turned 59 on the 9th.  I took this picture when he came back today after running 9   miles.  He looks EXACTLY like he did when I met him at 34, but then I'm 49 so my memory may not be as good as it used to be.   If he has changed it's only for the better.

 Then Rosie and Lex, followed by Keri on the 24th.

When we got an outside dog I thought I'd worry about leaving her outside in the winter.  That wasn't the case at all.  She was happy to be outside this winter, rolling in the little snow we got and looking very happy.  I worry more about her feeling uncomfortable in this heat.  Her coat is so thick and she hasn't started shedding yet.  Last week someone asked if she was an old dog because she moves so slowly.  I told them she was just hot.  It's so tempting to shave her but I've read you're not supposed to. 

I think we have a goat or 2 who were born in April also but I have no pictures of them to add.  

Happy birthday to all my furry friends and James.  My life is so full because of all of you.                                                                                                                      

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Goat milk lotion

Today I made my first goat milk lotion.  My friend Robin attempted it first and sent me this video   with the recipe she used.  I won't go into detail about how to make it since the video does that.  I used coconut oil instead of shea butter because I'm out of it and I didn't want to wait for my most recent order of it to arrive.  Another thing I did differently was use less essential oil than she recommended.  The recipe called for .1 oz of essential oil or fragrance oil but even using less than the .1 oz my lotion is still a bit too strong on the lemongrass I used.  I think that amount would be ok for a fragrance oil which isn't as strong as an essential oil.  I should have known better.  Our house smells like lemongrass which is nice but I don't like strong smelling lotions. 

Robin told me it should have a 3 month shelf life (I think that's what she said) but it will be interesting to see how long it lasts.  It has a preservative in it but I still wonder about how anyone can give a product a definite shelf life.  This reminds me of something else I did differently.  I used raw milk and not pastuerized.  I wonder if that will make a difference.  Lemongrass oil is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial so maybe my lotion will last longer because of it.

Here are some of the health benefits of lemongrass essential oil.  Maybe it's good I put a lot in.

◦Analgesic: Analgesic is a property that reduces pain and inflammation. Lemongrass Essential Oil helps relieve pain in muscles, joints, toothache and headache etc. resulting from viral infections like cough & cold, influenza, fever, pox etc. It also helps cure body pain resulting from sudden exercises, sports etc.

◦Anti Depressant: Lemongrass Oil boosts self esteem, confidence, hope and mental strength, uplifts spirit and fights depression. This can be very helpful to drive away depression for those who are suffering from depression due to failure in career or love, insecurity, loneliness, stagnation, someone’s death or any other reason. This also relieves anxiety. Being an anti depressant, it can be systematically administered to patients of acute depression who are undergoing rehabilitation after some shock. Just take it with tea and relax.

◦Anti Microbial and Anti Bacterial: This has anti microbial properties which makes it inhibit microbial and bacterial growth in the body, internally or externally. It is seen to be effective in inhibiting bacterial infections in colon, stomach, urinary tracts, wounds, respiratory system etc. and helps cure diseases resulting from bacterial or microbial infections such as typhoid, food poisoning, skin diseases, body odor, malaria (caused due to protozoon) etc.

◦Anti Pyretic: An anti pyretic is an agent that brings down very high fever. This is quite similar to febrifuge but is effective on very high fever too. This oil can bring down the fever when it tends to reach the danger mark. This property of Lemongrass, which comes from its essential oils, is extensively used. It is often given with tea for this purpose.

◦Anti Septic: The anti septic properties of Lemongrass Oil makes it a good application for external and internal wounds as well as an ingredient of the anti septic lotions and creams. The anti septic properties of this oil do not let the external and internal cuts and wounds go septic.

◦Astringent: An astringent helps stoppage of blood flow by contraction of blood vessels. If somebody is bleeding profusely, you need an astringent to speed up clotting of blood and stop the flow to save his life. Being an astringent helps in a different way too. It promotes contraction of gums, hair follicles, muscles, skin and blood vessels, thereby preventing loosening and fall of teeth, hair fall and flow of blood through vessels. Both of these properties can be life saving. This oil has good astringent properties.

◦Carminative: Lemongrass Essential Oil can efficiently handle gas trouble. It does not only help remove gas from intestine, but also stops further gas formation. Moreover, it gives the gases a safe downward passage by relaxing the muscles in the abdominal region.

◦Deodorant: The Lemongrass Oil is far better than those synthetic deodorants which cost heavy on the pockets and the environment and their effects do not last longer too. Moreover, sometimes they produce irritations on skin and allergies. This oil can be a far better choice as a deodorant from these points of view. In diluted form, it serves as an efficient deodorant without any side effects. The best thing about this is that it is herbal

◦Diuretic: Lemongrass Oil increases urination, both in frequency and in quantity. This may sound not that important but it can be very beneficial for health. With urine, fats are lost from the body to the extent of 4% of the volume of urine. So, it is obvious, the more you urinate, the more you lose fat. Then, urination promotes digestion and also does not let gas form. It removes excess water from the body and reduces swelling etc. Its biggest contribution is that it removes toxins from the body. What’s more, it also reduces blood pressure. That is the reason most of the drugs for lowering blood pressure induce frequent urination. Urination also helps clean kidneys.

◦Febrifuge: Lemongrass Oil helps bring down fever by fighting the infections due to which the fever is caused as well as by increasing perspiration.

◦Fungicidal: Lemongrass Oil has good fungicidal properties and may be used to cure fungal infections, both external and internal.

◦Galactogogue: Galactogogue is a substance or an agent that increases formation of milk in the breasts. It also enhances the quality of milk. This property is very helpful for the lactating mothers and the babies. Lemongrass oil is a Galactogogue. Apart from increasing milk, it also helps babies in another way. Babies are prone to infections. The anti microbial and anti bacterial properties of Lemongrass oil are also absorbed in the milk and thus indirectly help the baby get rid of such infections.

◦Insecticidal: Lemongrass is quite popular as an insect repellant due to its insecticidal properties. It kills insects and also keeps them away (but I am not sure whether it repels cockroaches!).

◦Nervine: Lemongrass Essential Oil acts as a tonic for the nerves and the nervous system. It helps cure many nervous disorders such as shaking hands or limbs, nervousness, vertigo, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and convulsions, sluggishness, lack of reflexes etc. It strengthens nerves and activates them.

◦Sedative: This is perhaps one of the most important and most appreciated medicinal properties of Lemongrass Oil. It is an excellent sedative. It has a great soothing, sedating and calming effects on mind, cures inflammations, itching of skin and relieves tension and anxiety. This feature can help patients of insomnia too.

◦Tonic: An agent which tones up and boosts health is a tonic. Lemongrass Oil is a tonic in real sense. It tones all the systems functioning in the body, such as respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system and excretory system and facilitates absorption of nutrients in the body, thus providing strength and strengthening immune system.

◦Other Benefits: Helps cure cellulite, fungal infections and digestive problems and reduces excessive perspiration too.

Few Words of Caution: It is likely to irritate skin and produce other types of irritations too. Hence it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A successful "field" trip

Every kidding season brings us some challenges and this year is no different.  We've been struggling currently with a possible udder injury from triplet boys and parasite overload in another doe who also had triplet boys.  Kids wreak havoc on their moms and I can so identify with that.

My soon-to-be-a-veterinarian niece told me it's time we move our goats to another pasture because ours is probably unhealthy after 4 years of goats pooping on it.   I already knew this but it motivated me to speed things up hearing it from someone else so today I took action.  You may remember how recently I tried moving the goats into our big field with no success.  I have to get them to cross the road - yes, all of them at once.   This is quite an orchestration but today I had a plan.

I loaded all 10 kids up in my station wagon, along with Darla who is a great baby sitter and also small enough I could lift into the car.  I drove them over to the field where they could cry out to their moms across the road.  How easy is that, huh?  All I had to do was let the moms out of their barn and they'd cross the road to be with their kids.  Well, it mostly worked that way.  We only had one car stop to wait for a confused goat.  The lady was very kind and I think she liked watching this discombobulated woman trying to organize her caprines.  Two goats didn't cross the road so I had to bribe them with food but eventually I had all the does and their kids on new ground.

 They were nervous, but at the same time seemed excited about the varieties of salad they'd been introduced to.  They wanted me nearby though and cried if I walked too far away.  Over time they relaxed and I was able to go back to the house to eat lunch without anyone freaking out.  The standard donkeys were not too crazy about the goats being over there without them but when I tried to coax them over too they still wouldn't cross the road.  It'll happen and you'll read about it here when it does.

It was so nice to see them standing in green grass that had never been tread on by a goat before.

Getting them back to their barn wasn't too big of a deal but still a little nerve wracking.  I'm sure this will get easier if I do it every day.  For my birthday James gave me 2 Goat Crossing signs.  I guess it's time I put them up.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Let's go on a morel hunt

There's one, do you see it?
 Look closer.
 Ah yes, there it is.
 And a close up for those who don't know what a morel looks like.
Now that you know what you're looking for, let's look some more.

Ok, those were too easy.  No more help.  You're on your own now.

It was a very successful morel hunt.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fields of yellow

What do you see in this picture?  That's what I thought you'd say, buttercups.  I love the way the field looks this time of year.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  Maybe this next one will be better.
Here's a closer shot of my buttercup.

Here's a guy who's also pretty happy with the field.  As you can see he's a bit camera shy.
These guys don't seem to pay any attention to the buttercups.  Maybe they don't like butter.  I didn't pick one and hold it under their chins to see. 
Next week Roxie returns to her lot.  It has more wild onions in it than buttercups.  I think she'll be happy with them.  She was bred March 12th and should have piglets on the 4th of July.  I hope she's not too lonely these next 3 months.