Photos of the New Rex Litter

DSC_0050I have some requests from potential buyers for pics of this litter, so I figured I might as well share them with everyone.

DSC_0054These kits are now twelve days old. As it turns out, there are two black otters, two blue otters and two solid self-blacks. One of the black otters has funny little bent over crumpled ears. I’m sure they’ll straighten out in time.

DSC_0042I think the reason I thought they were all blue at first is that the Rex black is much lighter when they’re born than in some of the other breeds I have. I’ll have to remember that.

DSC_0044My other Standard Rex Bluefin is due to kindle her very first litter on the 23rd. I gave her a nestbox today and she kind of exploded it.


Yes, there is actually a nest and a rabbit underneath all that


Gardening: A Retrospective


Poppies are one of my favorite perennials

I realized the other day that I never write about gardening on this blog, even though it’s a big part of my life and one of the main reasons I bought my own house and yard.

Throughout my apartment-dwelling life I’ve had many container gardens. One particularly nice one was in Halifax, Nova Scotia during my university days. It was on a modestly sized sunny balcony on the second floor of a huge heritage house. That was probably the garden I was most proud of… It was packed with poppies, nasturtiums, delphiniums, a giant dill plant, violas, sweet alyssum and wildflowers. I used to sit out there in the sunshine with my cats with butterflies and bees flying around everywhere and feel like a pretty damn good gardener.

Switch it up to my previous ground level place in Vancouver, British Columbia which had a great 40 by 6 foot outdoor patio area that was unfortunately in deep shade for most of the day. A lot of the plants I knew how to grow well withered away in that shade, although a few I expected not to survive surprised me. Like my giant sequoia redwood tree which has been toughing it out in the same pot for going on ten years now. (Where on earth do you plant a giant redwood on a normal urban lot?)

Luckily around the end of my stay there I was able to glean myself a community garden plot at the elementary school down the street. I had what seemed to me like a huge, 10 by 10 foot raised bed, stuffed to the brim with amazing rotted manure and compost. And weeds.


This is what my community garden plot looked like before I took it over


And here it is after

It was a beautiful sight! Without doing hardly anything other than the initial weeding, including not staking my indeterminate tomatoes, my vegetables were producing madly. I think other community members were probably watering my plot sometimes which I’m sure helped and was very nice of them.

Sadly, in the part of town I was living in, you were lucky if you were able to harvest anything out of your community plot before someone else did. It was always a gamble between letting something ripen for one more day, and it being gone. I had to improvise by planting unusual varieties like Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato, which fooled thieves into thinking the tomatoes were still unripe. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done, because they are now one of my favorites, (much more flavorful than any reds I know), and I grow them every year.

I also employed psychological warfare which worked pretty well, despite many strange questions from fellow gardeners.


In retrospect, I should have added an official-looking logo of some kind…

One time, my entire beautiful huge row of beets were taken all in one night. Another time, my whole big, bushy chive plant was razed to the ground, along with everyone else’s. Then there was the time I actually caught red-handed the person who had been doing most of the pilfering: an elderly chinese woman who I had been helping to carry water and move compost to her plot for months. It was a crushing experience. After that, I just didn’t have the heart to grow anything there anymore.

But now I have my own garden in my own yard with a great big fence around it and two guard dogs. Someone taking something out of my yard without my consent is not going to happen.

When I moved here two years ago there were really no gardens at all save for a weak attempt to “landscape” the front with a few ill-fitting shrubs. The weed-packed yard had been mostly neglected save for two sad, old dwarf apple trees in the back. One of my top priorities upon moving in was getting gardens dug and plants in. I had visions of so much food that I would be producing with all this new space… Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beets, spinach, mustard greens, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, celery, carrots, herbs, onions, tomatillos, sunchokes…

After hours of backbreaking work removing sod and tilling over what looked like amazing soil, I had a garden that year. But it was a pitiful one. Despite the addition of some rabbit manure; with the protective surface layer of grass gone, my amazing-looking soil baked in the sun, became hydrophobic and a total weed magnet. I got something of a harvest that year, but the rabbits and chickens were thrown far more weeds than I ever had of tomatoes or peppers.

Now I’ve made some important changes around here. I think I’m finally getting the hang of things. In many ways, the traditional rules of gardening were always somewhat counter-intuitive to me, and I’ve discovered that when I simply follow the guidelines that I observe working in nature, I end up with much better results. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I’m ready to do things right. I don’t want to be constantly weeding and watering, I don’t want to use chemicals, and I don’t want to shell out money for things like manure or mulch.

Check back soon for part two of this post, where I talk about what I’m doing with my gardens now. Thanks for reading!

My Ducks


The lilac drake

Muscovy ducks were the first livestock of choice here on my little homestead, and unfortunately met to an untimely end.

Since then, I’ve had many more Muscovies and am now down to just two, a nice little brown duck and a mottled lilac drake, both with white heads. I hope to get a second hen at some point soon to form a trio. Muscovies are great for urban or city coops because they are basically silent, brood their own ducklings, are prolific, do not require a pool and you can keep a male, unlike with most chicken bylaws.

I like the solid brown, bronze or black coloration in these ducks. I had a beautiful solid brown duck last fall who flew away permanently after my other duck went crazy and chased her out of the yard. She also killed my solid black drake by biting his neck until he bled to death. She foiled my plans good. Needless to say I was pretty pissed at her, and she ended up being culled. She was the mother of these two but I’m pretty sure they had different fathers. They seem like much nicer ducks than their mom, thankfully.


The brown duck

First Look at White Squabs

DSC_0054Here are the first pair of pure white squabs to be born here, they’re about 4-5 days old now. Aren’t they cute? I like that they look like they’re smiling.

DSC_0059And here’s the first squab born here at about one month old. He’s finally venturing out of his corner to look for food himself but still getting regular meals from dad. He has a pure white mother and a blue check sire.

DSC_0064Finally a shot of one of my white hens on her eggs, guarding her nest from my approach. They don’t budge easily when they’re incubating. So fluffy and fierce.

Standard Rex Kits are Here


Blue otter kit from last year

On schedule, Tuna kindled seven kits this morning. This is her second litter, and I was expecting mostly black otters with maybe a couple of blues, since Tuna and Timmy are both black otter. That’s what happened the first time around. This time however, she gave me all blue/grey kits. They all look healthy and I expect them to do very well. Now I’m extra curious to see what Bluefin kindles at the end of the month since she’s a blue otter too. Will there be blacks? Brokens? To those who don’t know, broken is a mottled coat pattern.


Black otter kit from last year


Baby Rabbit Update – Week 1


Californian X Creme d’Argent agouti kit

The kits are a little over a week old, and I’m happy to say that my new DIY nest bedding method is working very well. Everyone has been warm and happy with no issues at all. I’m so pleased to have finally figured out the nest box situation here.


Californian X Creme d’Argent black steel kit

Tuna my Standard Rex is due to kindle tomorrow morning. Her nest is well trampled and she hasn’t pooped in it, so I fully expect a nice little litter when I wake up on Saturday. Her daughter Bluefin is due on the 23rd. It will be Blue’s first litter so anything could happen. It will be nice to have some more Rex litters in the barn, they’re so soft and exotic even though they often have a lot of attitude.


Californian kit, 1 week


Californian kits in the nest

I actually also really like that the shredded paper adds great color! So cute.


Crappy Pigeon News


I think I’m alone now

Well, right after I posted that last update, I decided to catch some pigeons and leg band them so I really knew who was who. They weren’t very happy about being chased down, and my favorite little hen was even shaking with fear, poor thing. They all got treats afterwards and went right back to fighting, so no harm done.

The unfortunate news after banding is that it appears I may have only two or three hens. Two are white and one is my check hen with the white eye stripe.

I also decided to cull two older cocks while I was at it. This was a tough decision, but there are just way too many males, and letting them go is not an option, they’ll just fly back to their old loft where they are no longer welcome. I also wanted to try pigeon meat and see what the dressing process is like. I was surprised by how enthusiastic the dogs were about the leftover carcasses. They pretty much went crazy for them even though they are both usually very hesitant to eat dead birds that I give them unless they are cold or frozen.

The really unfortunate news is that when I decided to band the squabs, the smaller, white one died in my hands. There’s nothing like killing a baby bird just by the stress of taking it out of the nest. It’s not a very good feeling. Not to mention it was my favorite of the two and was probably a female. Oh well. It’s a very good lesson, and maybe I don’t want birds that die when handled in my line anyway. Still sad though.