Posts Tagged ‘urban farming’

Our Furry Friends Are Hopping Into Spring

Although early spring sometimes brings cold snowy weather, here in South Dakota, it usually doesn’t last long this time of year.  After a day or two, the snow melts in late March and early April.  Sometimes this type of weather creates chaos on the farm in early spring.  You just never know a month or more in advance what the weather will be when the barnyard animals give birth, and a sudden cold snap can cause problems for newborn animals.  Several years ago we had a doe kid (first born of twins born to our alpine doe, Claire) who was delivered during a freakishly cold weekend in March and ended up with a frostbitten back leg.

On the other-hand, livestock having babies and increasing their family-size is the backbone of 4-H livestock projects.  To enable our 4-H’ers to grow their rabbit herds, we recently purchased 2 nest-box heaters for keeping litters warm until the babies grow fur (like rodents, baby rabbits are born bald.)  The mothers do pull fur to line their nests from their belly and sides, but if it is chilly and/or windy, this is often not enough and early litters are easily lost to exposure.

This year, we started off our 4-H projects by breeding Henry’s doe, Lady to his new blue Mini Rex buck, Slurpie, and Charles’ new doe, an albino New Zealand named Crystal, to his red buck, Lakota, in late Feb.  Lady delivered a nice all blue litter of 5 kits on March 26th.  Crystal kindled the day after, but had her 8 babies on the cage floor and lost them all to the cold.  Pa made a mistake in leaving her dead litter for me to see.  A rodent of some sort (out in the barn) ate the dead kits, then managed to get into Lady’s hutch and got her babies too.

The weekend after, we bred Lady’s daughter, Beauty, Henry’s castor-colored doe, Anna-Beth and Charles’ red doe and rebred Crystal. Two weeks prior to that, we had bred Charlotte to Slurpie and Blur to Lakota.  Both Charlotte and Blur are due to kindle next Saturday.

If all goes well, it will really get hopping around here.  As a side benefit, we should have a fabulous increase in rabbit manure to fertilize our garden  in the coming months of spring and summer.

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We Want to Hear From You

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Well, this is our 20th blog post at Modern Pioneer Family!  We’ve been blogging almost a month now, so we’d love to know just what you, the readers are thinking!  We want to improve your reading experience.  Please take a few seconds to vote in our poll, so that we can bring you more of the posts that you will love most!

We are thinking of posting blog posts on our various topic catagories on different days.  Make them “regular features” here to keep us sort-of-organized.  We already have our Mystery Recipe Monday features.  Are  you all liking that one?  We are definitely going to start doing a middle of the month-ish, after the 4-H meeting recap and update on the Farmer Boys’ 4-H projects.

What else would you like to read about regularly?  Service Dog Saturdays with the K-9 Pioneers?  Lots more recipes for Gluten Free cooking?  How-to’s on fixing or building things with Pa and the Farmer Boys? Crafting and household how-to’s with Ma?  the Littlest Pioneer Girl’s lessons in grammar and vocabulary?

After a month, it’s time to find out what is going to bring you the readers, back for more? We always welcome your insights, questions and comments to our posts, and are especially looking forward to them when do a post like this one.

Besides, it’s an important election year, so we think it’s a good thing to practice voting… that way maybe we will all remember to vote in the Big Election this coming November.

*In other voting news, my Senator, John Thune, has a Bill before the Senate to stop the Labor Board from making it illegal for youth from working on their own family farms.  Please write, call or email your Senators and Congressional Representatives and ask them to support Senator John Thune’s Bill and the future of our rural youth. (Young pioneers of today grow up to become the leaders of tomorrow. In the uncertain days ahead of us, we will need strong, opinionated voices, well-developed leadership skills and a tireless work ethic… there is no better place for the modern young pioneer to learn these skills than “on the family farm” no matter how small or large that farmstead may be.)

Rain, Rain Please Don’t Go Away

(Shhhhh…The secret to perfect garden soil is…..Bunnies! Chickens! And Goats! Oh my!  Go ahead… Get Your Manure On!)

So,it rained early yesterday morning until about 10 am or so.  I hope it continues to do so off and on this spring, as it’s been such a dry winter in South Dakota.  Usually we get several feet of snow between Nov/Dec and April.  This year we’ve had less than 8 inches of winter precipiation… most of it ice rather than snow. (Of course after 3 spring/summers of heavy flooding, really doesn’t seem so bad.  But my farming neighbors with their traditional grain crops to plant seem somewhat concerned about having a drought summer… very bad for the corn and wheat crops particularly if we don’t get rain in May/June.  I don’t want to see food commodity prices going further out of control, as grocery prices are already so high, along with fuel and clothing too.)

I do wonder though that the neighbors GMO (roundup ready) corn doing less well, might actually be a good thing for us, if Pioneer Pa plants popcorn (quite the tongue-twister… lets say that 5 times fast) as one of our family’s crops this spring.  New to farming and gardening and wondering WHY?  Corn is a crop that utilizes wind to polinate and I’d rather not have the neighbors’ Monsanto patented Genetically Modified Organisms polinating my kids’ favorite snack.  My oldest child in particular seems very sensitive to GMO’s in his diet,  as seen by his increased stimming (self-stimulating) and increased echolia behaviors when he has regular (non-organic/traditional) cornmeal or corn syrup in his diet, but seems fine eating popcorn.  Popcorn as a crop has been less “tinkered with” than the startchy common dent corn that is used for human and animal feed purposes and ethanol production.  However, popcorn can and does cross-polinate with dent and sweet corn varieties if the wind and planting times are just-so.

If you are gardening (small urban/suburban farming) this year, just say no to the GMO’s.  Please plant open-polinated heirloom plant varities in your garden.  the more folks who do so and the more people who continue to save their own seeds from their crops, the better chance we have at keeping the genetic diversity and wholesomeness of our food supply.

Recently, Monsanto has been sueing small organic and heirloom farmers and gardeners for patent-infringement, when Monsanto’s GMO crops that were planted by these farmer’s neighbors contaminated the heirloom farmers crops.  Anybody who knows anything about an organic or heirloom farmer knows that WE DON’T WANT OUR CROPS CROSS-POLINATED BY MONSANTO’S GMO’s!  This is a well-duh sort of moment.  Anybody with half a brain can figure out that this situtation is completely backwards.  If anybody is being infringed on it’s the heirloom farmer, NOT an enormous multi-national seed conglomerate.  Seriously… shouldn’t Monsanto have thought about the possiblity of cross-polination by wind and insects PRIOR to tinker with and trying to patent life???

For more info on the fight back against Monsanto, check out some excellent articles on the subject and also the fight to get GMO’s labeled on foods from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.rareseeds.com

K-9 Pioneers update:  At 24+ hours old, Shiny’s puppies are doing very well.  Mommy has lots of milk, is a very attentive mother and the pups are pleasingly plump.

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