Warning: Sporadic Posting Ahead

I’m sure pretty much everybody has moved at least once, so the craziness associated with it should be well understood!

Our moving day should be sometime in the next 2 – 3 weeks.  As you know, the actual moving day occurs in the middle of the move as a whole event.  Before moving day, there’s the packing, readying the new home, packing, getting permits, meeting contractors, packing, cleaning, contacting utilities, and packing.  After moving day, that’s a whole ‘nother level of craziness as you UNpack (and realize that somehow, even though you have all your boxes, you’ve lost half of your stuff!).

Then there’s the fact that I haven’t learned what sort of internet access there is out there.  I think there’s no broadband… at least, that’s what I heard a lady at permitting tell someone else.  When it was my turn, the poor gentleman who was helping me with my permits was having such a time spelling our name correctly (it’s Amish and a bit unique), that I forgot to ask specifically about internet access.

So anyhow, please bear with me as my posting will probably be a bit irregular for the next month or so.  Not that it’s ever been really regular, but I’ve been getting better.  :)

I will try very hard to keep y’all up on all the exciting things going on at our new little homestead!  My next post, which I will start working on as soon as I click the “Publish” button on this one, will fill you in on what has happened so far.

My last post, on hand-feeding baby bunnies, took me a week to complete!  :o  That’s how little we’ve been here lately.

Handfeeding Baby Rabbits

Squeak, one of our does, had trouble producing enough milk for one of her litters.  She hadn’t had any trouble before, and I don’t know why she had trouble that time, but she did.  My helpful friends at RabbitTalk advised me to give her some rolled oats (old-fashioned plain oatmeal) lightly coated in blackstrap molasses.  Blackstrap contains many nutrients, and can help a doe produce the milk her babies need.

It did indeed help, but she still didn’t produce enough.  So I started looking up recipes for baby bunny formula.

I found several.  The ones I came across first involved using canned evaporated goat’s milk, and then mixing it with water, syrup, and egg.  I found in some forums, however, advice regarding powdered goat’s milk for rabbits — to mix it at double strength.  Baby rabbits drink so very little.  Their mother’s milk is very rich, to give them all the nutrition they need in a very small amount.  There were remarks that the kits raised on the formula with the water grew up looking malnourished, so I figured maybe that was the reason.

Evaporated goat’s milk is already double strength, so I took the formula recipe I had, cut it in half so I wouldn’t have as much waste, and eliminated the water.  This is what I ended up with:

1/2 Cup evaporated goat’s milk
1 egg yolk (kinda hard to cut in half, so…)
1/2 Tablespoon corn syrup

Cow’s milk is not as easily digested as goat’s milk, so that’s why most recipes suggest goat’s milk.

I poured a little into a small bowl, and then microwaved it for 5 seconds at a time, stirring it well with a fork each time I stopped the microwave, until it was really warm — a little too warm for the bunnies, because by the time I’ve stirred it the last time, taken it to the table, and filled an eyedropper, it’s cooled to just about the right temperature.

I fed it to them with an eyedropper, only about half a drop to a whole drop at a time. Handfeeding babies takes a while, but I don't want them to aspirate the formula. The divided upper lip rabbits have makes it especially easy for the formula to travel to the nose. We were always ready with a towel to quickly dry their little noses. They don't make much noise when they get their noses full of formula. They just suddenly start opening their mouths and moving their heads around. Sometimes they'll produce the quietest sneeze you can imagine.

Some of the babies were very receptive right from the start, and very eager to drink the formula. Others took a while to get past the fact that this HARD GLASS THING IS TOUCHING MY LIPS! Once they realized that hard glass thing had yummy food in it, though, they were fine with it.

I fed them about two half-droppers before they zonked out.  They didn’t look as full as they would with a full feeding from Squeak, but I was only trying to supplement her, not replace her.  As they grew, I increased the amount.

Then we discovered that one of Squeak’s ten babies (about 4-5 days old) was missing. After looking as well as we could on the chutes and around in the dark, we called it quits and hoped he had burrowed into a pile of dropped hay we had let grow too large. The next day, we started pulling the hay out slowly, and, sure enough, he was in there, alive and frantic! He was pretty warm, thanks to all the hay and the fact that this litter managed to fur out early. He was hard to hold, he was so desperately searching for food! So we gave him a formula feeding, too.

Hungry, hungry baby bunny sucking on his toes!

"Stop taking pictures and feed me... I'm about to dry up and blow away here!"

ILoveBunnies commented that the formula looks like egg nog. I started thinking… double-strength milk, egg yolk, sugar… it basically IS egg nog!  Guess I’d better hold the nutmeg, though.

One of my more resistant popples, finally won over by the formula.

Look at the little tiny teeth! We had to hold this one's head until he realized he was getting fed.

One of the two babies that did stuff himself on the formula. They both started looking like toads with wide, flat bellies. That's when I learned that you can overfeed them, and it will cause their organs to shut down. The other one died, but I withheld a couple of feedings from this one, and then limited his intake after that.

A couple of them got really messy!

I realized that it wasn't always the same ones that were smallest, and I wanted to keep track of the ones I had started supplementing, to see how they did in comparison. I took some enamel (I can't remember if it was nail polish or some of Shay's train enamel), and marked the backs of the ones I had started out with.

Now they would stand out from their littermates!

The enamel stayed on for a couple of weeks, long enough for me to see that the supplementing ultimately helped them catch up to the others. When butchering day came, they were all almost the same size.

Here’s a video of three of them at three weeks, not long before I stopped supplementing them (it’s at Vimeo, which I’m new to, so hopefully it works).  Enjoy — it is pretty funny:

embedded by Embedded Video

vimeo DirektHand Feeding Baby Bunnies

Here’s a link to the video:  https://vimeo.com/46203530

Random pix…

Here are some pictures I’ve taken, but hadn’t gotten them into posts yet.  So here they are!

The kids alerted me one day to a baby blue jay inside the rabbitry. No idea how he got inside the screen, but he was trying very hard to get out through it. I figured he was probably trying to get to where he was supposed to be.

I picked up the wayward little bird and looked him over for injuries. Then, we looked under the edge of the fig tree, right next to where he was in the rabbitry. Sure enough, there was his brother, patiently waiting for Mom to come back with some munchies. I placed the baby close to his brother, but he was scared and promptly hopped back out. So I caught him and put him under there again, and he stayed.

The Near East crepe myrtle right outside the rabbitry. These are my favorite crepe myrtles, because their blooms are big and loose, rather than tight clusters. The color is light pink.

This is a pitcher and basin inside a 200+ year old house on the grounds of the museum for which we volunteer. This shot was not planned or set up. I walked into the house, and the sun was peeking through the corner of the window and falling on the table, illuminating the pitcher and basin. I pulled out my LG enV3 cellphone and took the picture.

ILoveBunnies, tending the fire in the open hearth, as she helps cook in the mid-1800s detached kitchen at the museum.

A scruffy-looking broken red baby bunny, exploring the patio table.

Bunny-Wan Kenobi holds the one and only broken black we've ever had.

A stained-glass window at a church we visited.

A bird's nest we removed from the screen over the garden.

NOT TO BE SOLD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES... but it can be yours for 99 cents at a local thrift store!

We are all doing well since the accident.  Thank you all so much for your prayers!  I and my mom had a little soreness, the kids had none at all.  We sold the car to a scrapper, because it didn’t have collision coverage.

Today, we bought a 2000 Mercury Villager Sport.  It has good pick-up, and handles right well.  With room for 7, it should handle the 5 of us plus lots of groceries or whatever.  We really needed a minivan, but hadn’t planned to go about getting one quite this way!


Mister Rogers Remixed

This is just an amazing video.  My kids used to watch Mister Rogers.  I appreciated the slow, calm pace of his show, and all the interesting things he shared.

PBS had this video made, and it is just so neat.  The guy took Mister Rogers’ voice, and altered the tone up and down to make it sound like he was almost singing.  You must watch this! :)

Making our money work twice (or, Breakfast and a Movie)

We go to the movies one time a year.  It’s an annual family fun splurge.  We all go see the latest Pixar movie together.  Last year was a disappointment, but hopefully they’ll make up for it this time with “Brave”.

As my kids were chowing down on breakfast one morning, they saw this promotion on the cereal box.

Movie tickets? Hmmm... how convenient. "Brave" is just about to come out. Are these tickets only good for "Spiderman"?

No, they're good for any movie at participating theaters. Lemme guess... there is no participating theater around here. Actually, there are two -- including the Rave theater up the street.

To set up an account at Kellogg’s, they want your name, address, email address, birthdate, and a password.  I have a box for a mailing address so we don’t have to expose our home address, so I use that.  Your birthdate is telling them you are old enough to create an account.  Many people would not be willing to give this information, and I understand that.  It’s a choice.  Normally, I don’t participate in promotions like this, but every now and then, I will.

Any Kellogg's box with a Spiderman on the front bottom left corner will have a code inside. You type this code in at the website.

You get one point per code, for a maximum of 30 points.

So, each movie ticket takes 6 points/codes, which is 6 boxes of cereal.  30 points equals 5 movie tickets.  Since my uncle is otherwise occupied these days (he’s officially engaged now), 5 tickets are all we need.

I buy cereal anyway!  I don’t normally buy 30 boxes at a time, but I often buy 10 – 12 at a time.  Why not go ahead and buy 30 boxes, which I will eventually need anyway, and so essentially get 5 movie tickets for free?  Well, in exchange for some information.

I participated in the promotion they had last year for “Cars 2″, because my kids wanted translators.  They were really hoping the translators would come with Japanese loaded, especially since that was a large part of the setting of the movie, because they are learning Japanese (on their own, I might add).  No Japanese, but they still liked the translators.  I never received spam or junk mail as a result.

So I bought 30 boxes with Spiderman on them, and entered the codes.  You’re limited to entering 8 codes per day, so it took me four days to get all of them in.  Then I redeemed the points for certificates, which you present to the ticket office basically as payment for tickets.

So my money works twice.  I could have bought cereal, and bought tickets for the show.  Instead, I bought cereal, and the cereal got me tickets for the show.

I’m currently rotating the cereal through the deep freeze, because I’ve ended up with a few weevils in several boxes of Kellogg’s cereal in the past few months.

Packaging rice and pasta for long-term storage

Some time back, we bought a bunch of rice and pasta at Sam’s Club to package up for long-term storage.  We got it all together and packaged it.  I then proceeded to lose my pictures!

I finally found them (in, of course, the very last place I looked — sorry, old joke), so here they are to chronicle our first experiences with Mylar foil and oxygen absorbers.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I wish I had.

The primary enemies of food in long-term storage (aside from critters) are oxygen and light.  For dry goods, moisture also.  Oxygen will cause the oils in food to go rancid, and light just generally causes things to degrade.  The presence of oxygen will also allow eggs to hatch that are in grain, as well.  A friend of mine just lost a bunch of wheat, because she didn’t know how to prepare it for storage.

It is wise to put grains in deep freeze for a week or so to kill the bug eggs.  As far as I know, you cannot get grain that is free of bug eggs.  The stuff has been grown outside, after all.  All you can do is make sure the eggs don’t hatch.  Once you take the bags of grain out of the freezer, you let them come slowly back up to room temperature over the next several days.  Then you can package the grain.

In this case, I had white rice and pasta.  I’ve only had bugs in rice once, even having stored rice for several years.  When we packaged rice and beans in 2-liter bottles, I neither froze it nor used oxygen absorbers.  I may regret that someday.  I may yet freeze it after we move, just in case.  But for this day, I had Mylar foil bags and oxygen absorbers.

You probably know about Mylar balloons.  They’re the shiny, silvery foil-like ones that stay full of air or helium for a long time.  They work well, and the Mylar involved in those balloons is extremely thin (and you cannot use them for food storage).  But they give you a clue to the properties of really good Mylar foil.

The balloons are super-thin, with a positively microscopic layer of foil.  The other extreme you find in pouch-packed tuna fish.  Those pouches are high-quality, thick Mylar foil.

Mylar itself is essentially polyester sheeting.  It is stable, waterproof when sealed properly, and gas-impermeable.  It is clear in and of itself, and you see it in some foods that are packed in pouches that are similar to the tuna pouches, except they are clear.  It’s the same stuff — except the tuna pouch Mylar has an extra feature:  a thin layer of metal that makes the pouch opaque (hence, Mylar foil).  This blocks out light, helping prevent degradation of the food inside.

This is a six-pound bag of tri-color pasta, divided into six bowls of about a pound each. We just eyeballed it, since it doesn't need to be exact.

Once it was divided up, we poured a bowl into a Mylar bag, added an oxygen absorber, and then ironed it shut.

You can see I've got a board with a cloth, to give a good seal. I have the iron turned to its edge, one of several experiments I did.

Once all the bags were filled and sealed, we began placing them into these icing buckets we got from the bakery at Sam's Club. They were free, and came with seals (you have to clean them). The purpose of the bucket is actually to protect the Mylar from too much shifting, and from otherwise developing holes. Mylar does stretch well, but it is very susceptible to poking.

Overnight, the oxygen absorbers do their work.  They pull the oxygen out of the package, leaving the food packed in nitrogen, which does not react with food.  Some of the packages end up looking like bricks of vacuum-packed coffee, so you don’t want to squeeze all the air out of the package before you seal it.  …Especially with things with hard points, like pasta.  You cannot package spaghetti this way.

About 20% of the air we breathe is oxygen.  An oxygen absorber is activated as soon as it hits air.  When you seal one into a Mylar bag, its contents begin to react with the oxygen, pulling it out of the environment inside the bag.  The process is simply rust.  All rust is is the oxygen in the air reacting with iron in pipes, water, cars, etc.  This has been put to work for food storage.  Fine iron filings, packed in a way in which they can react with the oxygen around them without touching the food, rust and leave the nitrogen behind.

This is why you do not squeeze the air out of the package:  the volume of air inside will be reduced by 20%.  You need to make sure that as it contracts, the bag does not destroy itself by impaling itself with its contents.  Also, if there is not enough air in the bag to move around, it will be difficult for all the oxygen to get to the oxygen absorber.

You buy oxygen absorbers to match the size of the bag you are using, and the type of food you are packaging.  Oxygen absorbers for damp foods like jerky will be very slightly different from those for dry foods like rice.

I bought my Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers from Advice & Beans.

There are directions online for making your own oxygen absorbers with coffee filters, steel wool, and salt, or with “hot hands”, those heat packs that they sell for hunters.  I’d be cautious about using the “hot hands”, since I don’t know if they contain other ingredients that may not be safe with food.

It’s my favorite, so they’ll probably stop making it.

You know how it is.  You try and try to find what kind of a particular product you really like.

You try different kinds, different brands… finally, you find it:  your favorite Whatever.  For a few months, or a few years, you buy it faithfully.  It’s just right.  You’ll never buy a different one.

And then they stop making it.

I already told you how it happened to the one antihistamine that really works for me.  Every time I have a bad allergy attack, I consider buying it from Canada, where it is still made.  Then I price it, and weigh that against the fact that I have really bad allergy attacks only a few times a year.  The rest of the time, I’m just fighting allergies.  So I don’t buy it.

Listerine toothpaste. It's excessively minty, but the single most effective toothpaste I've ever used.

No other toothpaste leaves my teeth feeling really, REALLY clean like Listerine toothpaste does.  I’ve had dentists tell me that it doesn’t matter what toothpaste you use, and it doesn’t matter what toothbrush you use, as long as it’s soft.  It’s the scrubbing action that cleans your teeth; the toothpaste doesn’t really matter.

Sorry, I don’t believe it.

Shay and I first tried this toothpaste shortly after we got married.  We were using Crest, but Shay had trouble with bleeding gums.  Listerine was not a pleasant toothpaste to use with bleeding gums, but it wasn’t long before his gums stopped bleeding.  He hasn’t had trouble with it since.

My daughter used to use Colgate fruity kids’ toothpaste.  I figured… Colgate, that’s an old, respected brand, they’ve got to be doing something right.  Their toothpaste has to do a good job, or they wouldn’t have such a good reputation.  She brushed her teeth in the morning, but an adult brushed them at night, ensuring that she could both learn how to brush her own teeth and actually have clean teeth at the same time.

One day, I bought slushies for the kids.  You know, those crushed-ice drinks with tons of food coloring.  Well, when we got home and got out of the car, ILoveBunnies was smiling, and I suddenly saw that her teeth were red!  She had a thick coating of sludge covering her teeth, and the slushie had dyed it.  Eeeeew!

I immediately switched her to this toothpaste, which she hated because it’s so very minty.  It took a few days, but we finally got all the sludge off.  I tossed the rest of the Colgate.  I don’t know what their regular toothpaste is like, but the kids’ paste didn’t impress me.

So, as long as they make it, I’ll keep buying Listerine toothpaste.  It is slightly more expensive than Crest, and you can’t find it everywhere.  I do buy it at WalMart, though.  It’s $3.97 for a 4.2-oz. tube.  Not cheap, but worth it.

New Books! …and some miscellaneous pics.

Before I even knew we were moving to the country (not long ago, this move has come about so quickly!), I finally bought a couple of books I had been wanting.  One I bought because I really want to start baking bread again, but wanted to try something less time-intensive that I had heard about.  The other I bought as part of a dream.  A dream to move back into the country.  But I figured maybe there was a little of it I could try out here.

Now, of course, I am moving to the country… so I’ll really be able to use it!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. This book has rave reviews, and I can't wait to try it out! Basically, you make a big batch of dough (but wetter dough than normal bread recipes call for), stick it in the fridge, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece each day, and bake it. I have time for that!

The Encyclopedia of Country Living. One of the most-respected texts on how to do just about everything you might need to do in the country.

Okay, another book. I'm fond of books that show my kids the importance of proper grammar, especially in fun ways that they will remember. It's important where you stick those apostrophes! And where you don't.

Sorry for the low quality, but this is Bunny-Wan Kenobi's Lego Pearl he made. Pearl was really his bunny. He gentled her up and everything. It broke his heart when she died. He still puts a flower on her grave almost every morning.

What do you do when you don't have snow? You go sledding -- on the leaves! I think I took this in February. The previous year, we went with regular boxes. This time, I had gotten to the store right as they were unpacking fresh wreaths from WAXED cardboard boxes! Woohoo! Here, you see the kids sliding down, as my uncle gathers more leaves to transport to the top of the hill.

Probably the best fire picture I've ever taken. Makes me feel like winter just looking at it! Which is nice, since it was 97* today.

We took a day to put all of our rice and beans that we had set aside in more protective permanent storage. 2-liter bottles are very good for dry goods storage, as they shut out moisture. They are somewhat oxygen-permeable, but they can still keep things very well for a very long time, as long as they are stored away from light (or have a black shield over them). Here, Mom packages navy beans (I think). Each bottle holds about 4 pounds of either beans or rice.

I’m going crazy, won’t you come along?

In the midst of packing and getting ready to move, we’re still working on a place to move to.

We found a beautiful little property with an unlivable mobile home on it, and we’ve been in negotiations with the seller (a mortgage company — it’s a foreclosed property) about it.  Shay has drawn a line in the sand, and is prepared to walk away.  We’ll see what happens next.  I agree with him.

Neither of us is wanting a mortgage, but we need to move, and rent is unaffordable.  As the Bible says, the borrower is slave to the lender.  We don’t like being slaves, but if that is the only way to go, then that’s it.  It’s been nice being debt-free.  REALLY debt-free.  Not debt-free except for a mortgage.

On another note, Yuki completed her quarantine time with flying colors, and has now been added to the rabbitry! :D

Just Amazing!

In February of last year, I watched in amazement as my Clustrmap logged the 1,000th visitor to my little blog, about 8 months after I started it.  I could not imagine that anybody was actually interested in the things I wrote.  As I wrote in a post then, I almost didn’t get a counter at all, because I thought it would only serve to prove that I was talking to myself.

Just over a year after that post, I watched today as it hit 10,000. Well, I wasn't actually sitting here watching it. . . I happened to luck out.

I counted up the countries, and I have had visits from 120 of them.

I really don’t know what it is that brings you all here.  Whatever it is, I thank you for visiting and reading, and leaving your comments.  It really is encouraging to me.

I did have to change my comment policy once I started getting “smarter” spam.  You still don’t need to log in, but your first comment here must be moderated by me.  After that, your comments will be automatically published.  Comments with links must be moderated as well.  I read everything.  As long as I can manage the spam without tightening my policy, I’ll keep it that way.

Thank you again.  I feel so blessed!  :D