Today was a homesteading day.
We did a lot. No, we don’t make our own cheese. No, we don’t have eggs to collect, cows or goats to milk, and gardens to harvest from. But we are doing what we can with what we have so far, and it’s satisfying in a way that would be difficult to capture into words. Producing off of your own land, out of your own home, barn or kitchen, is a joy and a blessing to behold.
We started the morning off with homeschooling. Our oldest is in first grade, while our younger two are still preschool aged. Nevertheless, they start chiming in “I want to do school! I want to do school!” whenever the handwriting books are pulled out and 10-minute phonics videos are shown. Homeschooling is usually trying when not rewarding. Fortunately, today we had more rewarding than trying moments, though there were still some of the latter involved.
Then, there’s the work in the barn.
As I posted last, the ducks have joined the rabbits in the barn. They are much happier and we are much happier. Everything needed to be rearranged, and some people (namely, angora rabbits who haven’t recently been sheared) needed grooming. Hutch cleaning and brooder cleaning commenced from there. There was poop – a LOT of it. We have fifty animals between ducks and rabbits in the barn at the moment; there’s going to be a lot of cleaning involved for the sake and sanitation of them all. Just as sometimes homeschooling is more trying than rewarding, sometimes there’s more poop than product. Yet at the end of it all, there’s a reason for it.
We haven’t had French Angora rabbits long (only about 14 months, give or take), and so far there’s been a LOT of poop. But if you didn’t have to shovel through all that poop in the process, end products like this beautiful, cloud-like wool from Agatha wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. We’ve had a lot of failures in raising rabbits. We’ve lost litters, lost wool due to matting, lost supplies (I still don’t know what happened to that one grooming comb), but getting to see the fruits of our labor makes all those matters seem trivial.
As for the litters, they’re growing fast. To show you just how fast I’m talking, I’ve included one kit from Hester’s litter and one from Marianne’s litter below:
The one from Hester’s litter is only two days older than the one from Marianne’s litter. TWO. DAYS. That’s how fast they grow! And all ten of them between the two litters are healthy and in good shape. It will not be long before we have yet more products. Whether it be for the show table, for future breeders or wool animals, or even for sale to somebody else for one of those purposes, we have some good things going on in the rabbitry.
Lastly, the apples. Rachel spent a good portion of the afternoon canning applesauce for the year. The younger boys helped by putting on the lids and screwing on the rings. The older one helped by not complaining about having to work on his handwriting page.
We can a lot of foods throughout the year. This year, with moving in the early summer we didn’t have the opportunity to can as much as we normally do. However, with 13 young saplings in the backyard, we will hopefully be able to can our own fruit in just a couple of years instead of having to go to a U-Pick orchard. That is several years off, I am certain, but when that season does come that we don’t have to purchase fruit to can, it will be all the more gratifying.
Then, when all the work was done we sat down to a dinner of take-out-pizza and wings.
You thought I was going to say we had a beautiful homemade dinner, didn’t you?
Nope, we had pizza, and not of the homemade variety either. Yes, homesteaders eat take-out pizza from time-to-time. At least, this homesteading family does after working all day with church meetings, gymnastics and swimming lessons in the evening. Not very often, but every once in a great while it’s needed. Maybe after we’ve spent long enough working at it, we’ll be producing enough of our own food that we won’t. For now, I’ll take bleu cheese with my buffalo wings.