Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Rabbit Poop Scoop

Got your attention didn't it!

Being that we have at least 40 does, 5 bucks and about 150 teeny babies right now, we have lots of poop! So it gave me some inspiration to write about it.

That may seem funny, but to some people rabbit manure is considered "Gold."

Whether you are a hobby farmer, commercial grower, or just have flower beds and/or fruit trees rabbit manure could be your best source of fertilizer.

Rabbit manure is considered a "cold" manure. By this I mean that most manures you have to let compost before you can use them on your plants. Rabbit manure on the other hand can be placed directly on the plant.

Some people make "Bunny Brew" out of it, meaning a tea of sorts. We place a shovel full of rabbit manure in a 5 gallon bucket and fill with water. Sometimes we just let it fill with rain water. We then let it sit and steep, stir it a little bit every so often and then when we want to use some we dip some out of the bucket and use a watering can and water our plants with it. 

Other times we just lay it on like a mulch of sorts. Laying it on this way it sort of resembles the time release fertilizer pellets that you spend an outrageous amount of money on at the store. Rabbit droppings don't break down right away so the nutrients get slowly released into the soil. Providing some what of a constant nutrient feed. Making for a stronger, healthier plant. There have been some studies that have show where a photo of a plant was taken and you can see exactly when the rabbit manure was added. The stem goes from thin and gangly to thick and luscious green. The photo added to the right is an image of that sort. You can see where the stem becomes thick. Interesting isn't it.

You can toss it into your compost pile as well. This makes the best home for worms. They absolutely love rabbit manure. There has been proven studies done through Cornell University that have sited that earthworms reproduce faster in rabbit manure and are plumper, healthier and stronger.

Rabbit manure has been nicknamed a natural "steroid" for plants. It contains 3.7% nitrogen, 1.3% phosphorus, 3.5% potassium and contains trace elements of calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, cooper and cobalt. Making for a highly nutritious fertilizer.

So if you know of anyone who has some rabbit poop they would like to get rid of....make sure you "take it off their hands" for them. It will benefit them as to get rid of it and benefit you in growing your plants. The only thing with that may not want to tell them exactly why you want it...they may start charging or keep it all to themselves! ; )

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Trend

There is a "movement" happening that people are calling "Modern homesteading." But is it really a movement?

When some people think of homesteading, "Little house on the Prairie" comes to mind. Big fields, lots of animals, no running water..... But that is not all that it is. Everyone has a different way of homesteading.

Eric and I have been trying to change to being more self sufficient and green. The past few years we really haven't done too much to get to that point. I always made the excuse of not having time to can, not having time to bake bread, not having time to do much of anything besides business stuff. Which is farm related but 90% of the stuff we were producing was being sold.

This year however, things have changed. And funny as it is, the real drive finally came when the article about Mcdonald's "Pink sludge" came out. Eric Sr just could not handle it. He started researching more and we are now trying to cut out any products that might contain any GMO's and any processed foods.

Our long term goals are to get some solar or wind energy going on up here. I hope to can enough fruits and vegetables during the season to not have to buy them from the store during the winter. We have rabbits and chickens that we raise, we plan on raising some sheep and pigs this year as well as turkeys and ducks. So our meat will be covered.

I have been reading lots of books getting ideas, inspiration and good advice. There are 2 books in particular that I think everyone who is thinking of trying to change in some form to a greener lifestyle should read.

 The very first one is....""Your Custom Homesteading" By Jill Winger.  This book to me was very inspirational. She states that,
 "Modern homesteading does NOT have to be an all or nothing lifestyle. Even if you can implement one or two aspects of this way of life into your current situation, that is progress, and you should be proud of it."

This was inspirational to me. This made me think that no matter what people thought of the way we were living, what we are trying to accomplish, be proud of what we have accomplished and not to let their perception stop us from creating a healthier, sustainable life for my children and family.

In the book she talks about how no matter where you live (apartment, farm, 1 acre property) you can still change and manage ways to become self sufficient. She talks about growing your own stuff in pots, doing sprouts, or just buying from your local farmer's market. No matter the way it is all about living healthier and greener.

She includes a 21 step process that she took a long the way to get her to a more self sufficient lifestyle. She includes lessons she learned, advice she had been given and lots of inspiration.

I highly recommend if you are trying to change in any way even if it is just to learn how to can or to plant your own garden to have fresh vegetables during the growing season to save some money.

The other book I read was "Homesteading Journey," by Kathleen Lupole. Kathleen lives in Oxford, NY. Close to home which for some reason makes it more real I guess. Knowing that someone in our area can do this then we can.

There is also a paragraph in her book that was inspirational to me as well.

"It's so much different than the days of the pioneers. Look at all the conveniences we have, even as homesteaders. For me I do not think of it as we are living in the past, or old fashioned, as people will imply, when they learn of our lifestyle. My husband is always quick to correct them, that we are the ones living in the future. For we have combined the best of both worlds. The energy system use is modern tech,  so is the computers, the truck the chainsaw, etc. But we also have the manual tools."

Kathleen lives in an off the grid house. She has no refrigeration and gets her water from a hand dug well. She has a wood cook stove as well as a gas stove. They have solar energy to power all of their electronics. Which is not much at all. No TV. But a loving relationship and the love of the way they are living.

No I don't know that I want to do all those things. I would love a wood cook stove though. Eric jokes that he wants us to be Amish, but I don't think I want to go as far as having a horse and buggy. I do love my car.  But something I took from both books is we are all different in our own ways and it is our dreams and our way of life to make it what we want. Whether that be going full fledged "Off the grid," or just to help cut costs and save money. It all is based in the same virtues of living off the land in a round about way and saving money.

I do want to state that neither one of these authors paid me to write this article. I have had writers block and have been reading to get inspiration. And after reading these 2 books I knew I had to write about them. They bring everything back to buying local, supporting community and helping to sustain OUR economy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It took some convincing but.....

We have tapped some maple trees!

When I was younger I remember going to visit my great grandfather and he would be sitting in the sugar shack boiling the maple syrup. The smell was heavenly. I remember sitting next to him in his old rocking chairs by the heat of the boiler and listening to his stories about when he was younger. I remember being excited to visit him, being excited to "help" grandpa make maple syrup.

A little while later my great grandfather passed away and my father bought great grandpa's house. I remember thinking how exciting it was going to be to carry on the tradition and make our own maple syrup. Then that first year came. We all bundled up and hiked out throughout the acres of woods that our family owned to collect sap. My cousins, brother and sister and I all gathered in a wagon with a big "tank" in the middle. My uncle or my dad would drive the tractor and we would drive all over the hillside collecting from the many trees. Freezing sometimes and tired we would come back to the sugar shack where it was warm and smelled of sweet maple syrup. It was interesting to learn how to do it.

Mind you, we did not produce this on a large scale. We did not sell it anywhere but the house and that was only to a few of our friends and neighbors. But we made a "TON" of it.

So then came the subsequent years....and year after year the fun dwindle. It became more of a chore than it did a fun interesting project. The nights of staying up and taking turns trying to keep my dad or my brother and sister awake to make sure we had an eye on the boiler. The times we were sitting in there by ourselves listening to the radio and watching sap boiling. Kind of the same as watching a pot of water boil except for it smells better!

Don't get me wrong I loved the end result even though I didn't/don't eat pancakes or anything of the nature that often. The taste of fresh made maple syrup is so much more flavorful than that of the store. It is as my grandfather would say, "As sweet as love."

So as I grew older I swore to myself that I would cherish those memories of the times I loved it and forget about the times I hated it. I would make sure I never did it when I got older so that I would still be able to cherish those moments.

But as Eric has been begging me for a few years now for us to do it, I could not refuse this year. We have slowly been trying to convert ourselves to more of a "homesteading" family. So I guess this is just one more step in that direction.

I will have to say deep down in side I am excited about it. Even though we don't have a "sugar shack" and will only be doing small batches on the stove in our home. It will hopefully be a little more enjoyable doing it in small batches. And of course now that I am older I will appreciate the outcome much more. It is amazing what changes when we grow older. Our outlook on life and things that were so "annoying" turn into something that is a necessity or a way of saving money. Then we understand when it is too late. I can't go back and enjoy it then but I can change and enjoy it now!

 I am excited to have Eric Jr playing a roll in it. He went with daddy to tap the trees. He tasted the sap. And was very excited to tell me when I got home from an appointment..."Mommy, we makin' seer-up!"

We will only be making enough to support our families with it. Not to sell it. So here we go!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thank you for attending the Local Meat Fair.

I am glad to see that many of you made it to the local meat fair that we had at the Metrocenter in Binghamton last night. If you didn't make it here is a little review of what went on.

The event was organized by Laura Biasillo who works for Cornell Cooperative Extension and is part of Senator Libous' "Buy from the Backyard" campaign. This month the focus of the "Buy from the Backyard" monthly newsletter was CSA's. So this event was created to help get the CSA's out there as well as let people taste the different meats.

There was rabbit (ours), Chicken (ours), Beef, Goat (Boer Bakery), Turkey (King Hill Farm) and Pork.

Matt from Down to Earth Whole Foods was the chef who created all of the dishes and let me tell you they were AMAZING!!!! My favorite of course was the Southwest Black Bean Chicken because it was Spicy! The rabbit stew was delicious as well with a creamy type broth flavor! Eric like the Beef brisket and Julianna enjoyed the quiche he made!

A lot of people that tried the Rabbit stew had made the comment that it tasted a little fatty. I just want to clarify....the fatty-ness did not come from the rabbit. Any homemade broth has a certain amount of creamy fat to it. It tends to be more fatty than salty. Whereas the broth that you buy in the store is more salt, less fat. His broth was different also in the way that he used the carcasses from all of the animals (turkey, chicken, rabbit, beef, pork...) to make it. It had a unique flavor and to me was absolutely creamy delicious. It was better than the broth I remember my grandmother making when I was younger.

Rabbit is an extremely LEAN meat! there is not a lot of fat to it therefore it should not have a fatty taste. It was the broth that made it seem that way!

Either way it was a great market, a great event and it was great to educate a lot of people on rabbit meat. Obviously rabbit meat is not something that is a staple in everyone's home or mind as something to eat. In other countries it is one of the main meats but here it is "exotic!"

Not only did we sell a lot of meat but we sold a lot of the teas that I just finished! I hope you enjoy them!

I figured I would share some recipes with you from the event. Of course they are the Chicken and Rabbit recipes!

Southwest Black Bean Chicken

2 lbs free range chicken breast
1 yellow onion (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup black beans
1 tomato (chopped)
1/4 cup olive (chopped)

Less than a 1/2 tbsp of each of the following:
sea salt, black pepper, paprika, parlsey, cayenne, cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder.

Cook the chicken. Shred it. Mix all of the ingredients together and simmer together.



Rabbit Stew

3 cups vegetable or beef stock
1 cup water
1 lb fresh rabbit meat (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
1 celery stalk (chopped)
2 red potatoes (chopped)
1 sweet potato (chopped)

A 1/2 tbsp each of the following:
sea salt, black pepper, paprika, parsley, thyme, sage, onion powder, caraway seed

 Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the meat and the potatoes are cooked through.


I hope you give them a try! They were absolutely delicious!