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Motor City Homestead » 2007 » July

Archive for July, 2007

Homestead Update

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I know we’ve been a bit slow with posts, pictures, and videos.  We’re in the midst of home remodeling madness (as well as expecting child #4) and my brother who does all the video editing and posting just had a baby boy.  He’s also in the midst of a serious crunch at work, so doesn’t have any free time.  We’re taking lots of video - just haven’t had time to post it yet. 

Motor City Homestead is Moving!

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Not a virtual move, a real honest to goodness move.  We bought a home on a double lot and are going to spend the next couple of years turning it into a cornucopia of self-sufficiency (we hope).  The only bummer is that we’ve spent the last 4 years working on our garden;  digging the beds, amending the soil, and rotating the crops.  Now we have to start over from scratch.  The great news is that there will be lots of posts on energy-saving updates to our home, planning a garden, and maybe some basic home repair just for fun.  Much more to come.

Nuture vs. Nuture: The debate rages on

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

So last night was the big night:  we butchered our first litter of rabbits.  Thankfully, I have a good friend who is a real, honest-to-goodness farmer from our friend to the north (Canada).  He was in town and offered to show me the ropes.  I don’t know what I would have done without him.

 I’ll be honest - the whole process went remarkably well.  In fact, it went much better than I expected.  It was quick, and not nearly as messy or smelly as I had heard it would be.  Still, I couldn’t sleep last night, and woke up feeling really, really awful.  I’m not from a hunting or farming family - so killing something with my bare hands is way outside my comfort zone.

 Thankfully, I have a caring wife who LOVES to process emotional turmoil.  And she had some very wise things to say.  What struck me most was this statement, “This might be hard for you because you have a very nurturing attitude towards animals.”  And she’s right.  My dad’s a vet, and we grew up in a household that took in strays and injured animals, tried to nurse them back to health, and then either kept them as pets or released them back into the wild (of our backyard).  From all my life experience, killing an animal feels like the exact opposite of nurturing.

But, that got me thinking about the whole concept of nurturing.  The purpose of nurturing is more than just creating safety or comfort.  True nurturing is helping a person, plant, or animal fulfill it’s highest purpose in life.  With a plant, you feed and tend it so that it either produces flowers, or produces fruit - and our goal is to generate as many flowers or as much fruit as we can on that plant.  With a pet, we feed and care for it so that it can be a faithful companion.  We give it love so that it loves us in return.  With a child, we nurture them in order to generate character, belief systems, goals, and desires.  To (gently) push them towards being all that God intended them to be.

Our rabbits were born to be our food.  Whether or not that’s a rabbit’s highest purpose is a discussion for another time.  But, in the microcosm of our tiny 0.1 acre homestead, the rabbits’ highest purpose was to grow as large as possible to provide meat for my family.  To that end, we nurtured them.  We fed them well, protected them from predators, gave them comfortable living quarters, and provided lots of fresh water.  When the time came, I (and a few brave friends) ended their lives as quickly, respectfully, and humanely as possible.   So, in a strange way, butchering our rabbits was the culmination of the nurturing process.   In the end, we helped them achieve their final purpose - providing food for my family.

Which do you want first . . . the good news or the bad news?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

We checked on the baby rabbits yesterday around lunchtime, and all seemed to be going well.  It was another super hot day - but they were all kicking and wiggling.  Unfortunately, by the time I got home from work at 5PM, there were more telltale flies.  Sometime yesterday afternoon, another baby died.   Very sad. 

The good news is that when I counted the remaining bunnies, there were 6!  So apparently, we started with a litter of 9.  Snowball is one fertile mama!  And apparently Mr. Nibbles has strong swimmers as well.  Good news for the future.

 I beat myself up quite a bit about losing those three bunnies - to the point where Amy told me to get a grip.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this sort of thing happens all the time between the barn and my table.  I’m just very removed from the process.  I’m sure (especially after seeing those disturbing videos on YouTube) that there are lots of casualties in the commercial livestock or poultry business.  My unofficial google research shows that commercial mortality rates are between 10 and 20% - some estimate as high as 40%. 

So cute, fuzzy, baby animals die all the time so that we can eat.  It’s a practice I endorse and support every time I buy meat at the store - I’ve just been shielded from the unpleasant reality by a shrink wrapped styrofoam package.  But, that’s why we’re doing this - to get closer to our food.  To experience the journey from field to table - and while it’s not always pleasant, it’s extremely informative.  And it might turn me into a vegetarian yet.

Video - Rabbits#5

Friday, July 6th, 2007

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Our rabbits in their new digs. Their new home is better designed for them and for us. Also notice our first litter at 8 weeks old. They’re practically full grown!

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Video - Growing Potatoes

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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Our potato crop took up a quarter of our garden for the whole season last year, so we’ve decided to try growing them above ground this time.

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Video - Rabbits #4

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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Here we are in the somewhat awkward act of filming our rabbits mating. Put them together in the morning, then again 12 hours later, and hopefully we’ll have another five (or more!) baby rabbits running around soon enough.

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Video - Compost Pile

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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We added our neighbor’s grass clippings to our compost pile. It got so hot we thought we might be able to cook in it, so we gave it a try…

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Video - Ukrainian Egg Night

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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Egg dyeing is traditional folk art in many eastern european countries. Raw eggs are dipped in progressively darker dyes, and between each dyeing a stylus is used to apply wax to the egg. The wax keeps that area from being dyed again, so that when all the wax is removed the eggs are covered in a multi-colored design. The dye is permanent, and as long as the egg doesn’t crack it’ll simply dry out over the next ten or so years. Our family has eggs that are 25+ years old!

Each easter we try to host a party to dye eggs Ukranian style. This year a number of friends couldn’t make the easter party, so we held an additional Ukranian Egg Night.

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Video - Rabbits #3

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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After just three weeks, the baby rabbits are running around, eating food, and climbing all over their momma. It’s amazing how fast they grow!

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by kimballsi with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.