Reflecting upon my accomplishments of 2010

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Friday, December 31, 2010 10:29 PM

Note: This is not meant to be a complete list, but rather the things that are coming to mind as I sit here reflecting upon the changes to Havenscourt Homestead over the past year. These items are not in chronological order by any stretch of the imagination.  Now that I've compiled it, I'm pretty amazed at everything I accomplished.  Not bad... not bad at all...

Construction Projects:

  • Converted cargo trailer into a livestock trailer
  • Rebuilt front steps
  • Tiled front porch
  • Widened driveway
  • Installed double pane windows throughout house
  • Built rabbitry
  • Goat happenings
    • Three healthy baby goats born, raised, and sold (R.I.P. – A2). Proceeds of their sale along with my companies matching gift program allowed me to donate nine goats and a flock of chickens to Heifer International
    • All four goats are in training to become registered therapy animals
    • All four goats participated in the Funny Farm at the Northern California Renaissance Faire
    • Lulu successfully bred to Harvey – due 3/15ish
    • Edible East Bay - magazine article
    • Backyard Farm by Lori Eanes - Photo essay book which may be printed in Oakland Magazine
  • Rabbits
  • Ducks
  • Turkeys (short timers)
  • Learned / Practiced humane processing of meat animals
    • Chickens
    • Turkeys
    • Rabbits
    • Pheasant
Home Dairy:
  • Milking (self taught)
  • Soft Cheese
    • Chevre
    • Ricotta
    • Feta
    • Mozzarella
  • Hard Cheese
    • Cheddar
    • Derby
    • Gouda
    • Farmhouse Cheddar
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Very successful summer garden despite the abnormal weather. First time crops included
    • Sweet Peppers
    • Tomatillos
    • Pumpkins
    • Potatoes
  • Planted Orchard
  • Completed drought tolerant front yard landscaping, including a swing and solar fountain – Thank you everyone who helped with this!
  • Chosen to be a host garden for the 2011 Bay Friendly Garden Tour!!
  • Began foraging for mushrooms
Personal hurdles:
  • Spinal Surgery
  • 8-1/2 months disability (2 separate medical leaves)
  • Although I’m still in a substantial amount of pain at times, it is no where near as bad as it was prior to surgery.
  • And most importantly, I can walk again. Thank you Snow, Nali, Sammy, and Lulu for helping me to achieve this goal.
I'm sure I'm missing numerous items here.  But for now, looking at this list, I'm deeply satisfied.  All in all, despite numerous hardships, it turns out 2010 was a better year than I had originally thought.  Nope, not bad at all.

Here's looking to a happy, healthy, and wounderous 2011.  Happy New Year everyone!

Reflecting upon my accomplishments of 2010

Posted by Kitty Sharkey 10:03 PM

"Bunny, we're HOME!"

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, December 8, 2010 4:56 PM

Saturday, December 4th, was yet another construction day here at the homestead. Ralph and his helper Jim came over to build my rabbitry. A few days before, Ralph and I had gone to get all of the materials so they'd be able to complete the structural work in one day.
Prior to that, I had of course designed and redesigned my rabbitry numerous times. I knew what I wanted, but had to figure out the best way to achieve my construction goals using the least amount of materials. When I finally settled on a plan, I must have quadruple checked all my measurements and material lists.
Ralph had reviewed my plans and material list. He actually approved of the design which was cool. Of course, I planned it with minimum waste and he always thinks of quickest and easiest, so I ended up having to go buy a couple more 2 x 4's because he didn't follow my cutting guidelines. I guess it could have been worse.

But once they got started, the rabbitry went together fairly quickly. Basically, I've built it along the back fence filling the space between the garage and the barn. It's five foot wide, so there is plenty of over hang. At the end near the milking parlor, I have a little half wall that will make a nice little cubby to put all of my gardening tools and stuff in.

Once they left, I started hanging the rabbit hutches. I had only put a couple of them together, so it took several days to finish them and get them all hung up. I wish I had a picture to show the whole row, but it was too dark by the time I finished. There are five cages in a row, with 8" behind them and 6" in between. There is about a 2 foot overhang in front which means I'll be able to stay out of the rain when feeding (like I did tonight).

On Sunday, I went to visit my friend Esparanza at Pluck & Feather. I had helped her process a couple of rabbits a week or two earlier, and she graciously offered me one of her young bucks. So on Sunday I brought home my first rabbit, Papa Charlie Jackson. I named him after an Early American Urban Blues artist. It was so appropriate! He's a 4 month old American Blue, and the brother of Scooter and Kumquat, two rabbits belonging to Rachel at Dog Island Farm. The American Blue is the most critically endangered breed of domestic rabbit. I plan on bringing a doe in from another breeder so that we can increase our local gene pool.
And then it was time to bring home rabbits from the breed I really want to work with, the American Chinchilla. Like the American Blue, this breed is also critically endangered. Both are listed on the Slow Food USA "US Ark of Taste. Finding a breeder in Northern California proved to be rather difficult. I was able to find three. At first I contacted the one closest to me, but the breeder was a little elusive and didn't quite answer my questions. This didn't set right with me, so I kept searching. I knew I had struck gold when I got in touch with Karen and Sandy of Snake Road Rabbitry in Oroville. They had just returned from the American Rabbit Breeders Association National Convention with a few new rabbits / pedigrees to add to their breeding program. That meant they were sorting through their rabbits deciding who to keep and who to sell so that they could make room for the new ones. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
My oldest Doe is Delilah. She's 2-1/2 years old and a proven mom. Right now, she's the nervous one and quite shy. But I'm sure she'll settle in comfortably once she gets over the move. She will be the first rabbit to give birth here at the homestead once I breed her.

Next there is my 6 month old Buck. He came with the name Rasta, but I think I'll be changing that. I haven't figured out a good name for him yet. He has warmed right up to me and loves to be stroked.

And finely, there's my little 2 month old doe. They called her Lucy, and that just might stick. I haven't decided yet. She's a total little snuggle bunny, and cute as a button! It'll be a while until she's ready to breed, but for now I'm going to work on handling her a lot so that I can trust her with all the kids that come to visit. I just know they are going to want to pet one of my new bunnies. Papa Charlie is already super duper friendly. And this little 'un is going to be a charmer as well.

I wish I could show a good picture of their fur. It's absolutely exquisite. When you blow gently on it or brush it against the growth pattern, it divides into four distinct bands of color. Absolutely lovely. And super soft. I will definitely be learning how to tan rabbit hides soon. But no worries about these three. They are my breeding stock. They are, however, meat rabbits and that's what I'm raising them for. If I end up with any especially nice offspring, I may try my hand at a show or two. Who knows. All I know is that I'm happy to have them home!