Storm Before the Calm – The Garden


A string of habaneros

We had such a dry summer this year that my garden did not do as well as it should have. Since I don’t have any irrigation set up yet and half my crops were in containers this year, even daily watering just wasn’t enough to get the kind of production I was expecting. I still did very well compared to my first two summers when there were zero gardens here and everything needed to be done from scratch, so I’m not complaining.


Kale seedlings in the lawn

Now that it’s cooler and the rains have finally decided to fall on us again, a lot of my garden is exploding with new growth. My cilantro looks like the grocery store variety for the first time ever, I have about a billion Red Russian kale seedlings popping up all over the place, the arugula is back in full force after seeding itself, and the celery and artichoke plants are growing as fast as they can. The optimistic tomatillo plants have more flowers than leaves, the nasturtiums are twining everywhere, the Lacinato kale is huge and the leeks are putting on girth.


Spicy nasturtium blooms

My lone habanero plant did well, and I have been collecting little orange peppers and hanging them to dry. I got a handful of poblanos and a bunch of jalapenos as well, and I’m going to bring my plants inside before it gets frosty and try to keep them alive over the winter. I foresee a fungus gnat infestation in my future… Hope I’m wrong!

DSC_0013A few plants have departed, the tomatoes are long gone and their skeletons have been picked clean by chickens and ducks. The okra is brown mush after a pitiful harvest of of about six pods, and the cucumbers are toast. The Mammoth Russian sunflowers in the ground did pretty well and were cut down. I’ve saved a few heads for growing more. DSC_0001

I discovered this year that rabbits LOVE eating sunflower plants, so I’ll be planting a large crop of them next year, along with the black oil type. Even the dead brown sunflower leaves seem to be considered a treat and they store well along with being cheap, easy to grow and drought tolerant. It’s also neat to see their heads turning to look at the sun all day long.

A Gift

DSC_0004I came home last week to a small gift left for me outside my back door. It was obviously left by Parsley the cat, who is the resident small game hunter around here.

DSC_0003I’m not overjoyed that this Stellar’s Jay had to die, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to see one up close as I like them a lot. I don’t remember ever seeing one back east when I was growing up so they are a little bit special to me. I heard somewhere recently that no birds have blue pigmented feathers, they just have tiny random structures on them that scatter light and appear blue to our eyes. Well this guy sure appears to be pretty darn blue.

DSC_0006I’ve decided that I’m going to try to preserve this little bird with taxidermy. It will be my first try at this interesting art, and I hope I do him justice. He’s in pretty good shape since Parsley usually tries to keep gift birds alive for me, but I guess I came home a little too late for this dude. I’m sure he put up a good fight. He will be relaxing at the ever-popular Freezer Camp until I’m ready to process him.

I think knowing how to taxidermy will be a fun and rewarding skill. I’m planning to teach myself via Youtube, like I learn how to do most things. Wish me luck!


Our Bunnies are Finally Broken

DSC_0034For the first time ever we have broken rabbits here at Abernathy’s!

Broken of course refers to a spotted coat color. So far we have had nothing but solids, otters and agoutis born here. Today, my new pedigreed Standard Rex doe Opal (who is coincidentally also an opal color) kindled her first litter sired by my new broken buck, Pine Tar.

She was a day late and kindled on day 32, and my other Rex doe Bluefin, who was bred at the same time to the same buck is also late and will probably kindle tonight. Can’t wait to see what she’s going to throw!

DSC_0026These little bunnies are just so gorgeous! There were six smaller-sized kits born in the nestbox this evening. Originally Opal had decided to move the location of her nest to the cage floor, and relocated all the nesting material there. I stuffed it all back into the nestbox the next day and she seemed fine with that, pulled fur and had her babies where she was supposed to. Since this is my first experience breeding her, it’s good to see she’s a sensible rabbit.

DSC_0027There seems to be some broken opals, broken castors, and a solid castor. These are really just guesses though based on the colors of the parents. I can’t wait to watch them grow out! The little spotty coat patterns look so beautiful when they’re tiny like this, like how a shrinky dink looks better once it’s been shrunk. I’m sure they’ll make very attractive adults too, but their patterns look so intricate and perfect at this age.

Another first here at the rabbitry is that these six little kits are the first fully pedigreed and papered rabbits to be born here! Yay! Both parents are from a very reputable local rabbitry and were specially selected to make a good breeding match based on their background genetics. Here’s to lots more fully-pedigreed buns!


Proud momma Opal