You can’t farm without the right equipment

In the three years or so that we’ve been hobby farming, I’ve been using the John Deere mower to move heavy things like feed bags and piles of brush, just like rednecks everywhere. Occasionally I’ll actually mow with it, but it’s seen much more use hauling fence posts, bags of grain, and anything else we don’t want to carry. (Which in my case is anything over 2 pounds). But those days are over — thanks to Abigail’s somewhat obsessive Craig’s List browsing habit, we found a guy in Portland who wanted to trade his tricked-out Rhino for a Jeep Wrangler. For those not in the know, a Rhino is a supercool ORV (Off Road Vehicle, you’re welcome, Bess Bess). Since our Wrangler has been sitting in the driveway long enough that a chipmunk built a nest in the glove box, Gene jumped all over that deal. So this weekend, it was goodbye 11 miles to the gallon, rodent-infested, hardly been driven in two years Jeep, and hello mud-bogging, trail riding, good times on a Rhino. And of course, hauling feed bags and such in the back of it, because we’re practical like that. I’m never walking anywhere again. With the exception of the evicted chipmunk, everyone was ecstatic with what they ended up with.

Gene and I took it out for an inaugural spin through the Tahuya State Park this afternoon, and had a blast. Although I couldn’t drive it since my wrists aren’t strong enough to handle the steering wheel, I had a great time with my camera from the passenger seat. Gorgeous pink rhododendrons grow wild in the park, and every five minutes or so I’d demand that Gene come to a screeching halt so I could photograph a particularly beautiful one. In our explorations, Gene came across a really cool stream with a bunch of dead fall in it, which was home to minnows and a ton of Jesus-bugs. I don’t know what that insect is actually named; in the midwest they’re called that since they walk on water. Whatever they’re called, I spent about 20 minutes watching them while Gene hiked in the woods.
But it hasn’t been all off-roading and playtime, we actually got work done on the garden as well this week. I supervised while Gene fenced off the 24′ by 40′ garden area. Now that the deer fence is up, I can actually begin planting without having to worry about the seedlings falling victim to the pesky, pesky chickens. I still can’t figure out where they’re laying – I found a clutch of about 15 eggs in the woodline, but they haven’t used that spot again since I collected them. That’s one of the biggest downsides of free ranging the flock, but I don’t have the heart to fence them in. They’re so happy when they can wander. The broody Golden Sex-Link is still inside the old coop, sitting on a pile of 12 eggs. They should hatch in another week or so; I can’t wait! Those will be our first “real” chicks, meaning we hatched them ourselves rather than buying them from the feed store. God only knows what they’re going to look like, given the variety of roosters we have running around.
In other critter news, the baby bunnies are happy and growing at the exponential rate only Flemish Giant bunnies can. Harvey has adopted all of them, and spends his days grooming and playing with them. They’ve just about outgrown their nesting area; I put the ladder out for them first thing in the morning, which gives them access to the entire Bunny Mansion. I lock them up again at night, since the evil weasel that killed poor Claire is still out and about. During the night, the five of them manage to eat an entire scoop of alfalfa pellets, which is saying a lot, given that the scoop holds three quarts of material.  I keep accidentally forgetting to put up the “Bunnies for Sale” signs at the local feed stores, so we still have all five of them. Clearly Gene needs to add an addition to the Bunny Mansion.

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