Fall is rapidly encroaching here on the farm. Gene helped me plant flowers in the pots on the back deck, just to help maintain the illusion of summer, but there’s no denying the low-40s temperatures at night. I’ve been frantically trying to get all my autumn chores done before I’m back to being a one-handed farmer next week; my “to do” list is so long that basically all I’ve gotten accomplished is sitting out in the backyard with my camera, thinking that I should probably start on it. Canning is the one thing we’ve definitely kept up with – blackberry and raspberry jelly, tons of pickles, peach and apple butter, salsa, and dehydrated apple rings all grace the storeroom shelves. This weekend we’ll finish up with the apple butter, and try doing some pickled carrots. Hopefully they’ll be some carrots left for the jars, because they somehow keep ending up in the Bunny Ranch.
Even though it fusses me mightily when Harvey goes on his adventures (he’s now up to two-day romps, and has earned the nickname Bender Bunny), I can’t imagine denying him his taste of freedom. I would love to somehow tag him with a GPS tracker, just to see where he spends his time when he’s not in his bedroom. I have a feeling that come spring, the indigenous wild bunny population is going to increase in both numbers and in bulk. I’ve gone outside several times at midnight with a flashlight, calling him in the hopes that he’ll come hopping home. It works most of the time, and then I find myself picking carrots by the light of the moon, assuming he’ll want a snack before retiring for the evening. He came home one night with two ticks attached just below his left eye, which I guess is better than an “I heart mom” tattoo. Pulling them off was surprisingly easy, since I just had to distract him with a carrot long enough to yank them off with a tweezer. At first, I thought he had somehow gotten a seed pod of some sort embedded in his face, since the bigger tick was gray and bullet shaped and I don’t spend time theorizing about what a tick would look like should I run into one. When I pulled it out and took a closer look, I have no shame in admitting that I screamed and threw it, tweezer and all, as far as I could. I was not expecting the seed pod to be capable of waving tiny little legs in my face when I went in for a closer look. Speaking of waving things in my face, it actually had a face. I was not prepared for that. Then I went inside and changed clothes, just in case the tick fell off onto my clothes when I was winding up for the tweezer toss. I almost dropped trou right there in the Bunny Ranch, but at the last minute decided that if I did that, a neighbor would certainly pick that time to drop by to borrow a cup of sugar.
In non-vermin related news, three incubator eggs hatched! Out of the 24 I put in there, I candled them all and unfortunately only three were actually fertile. But if you separate the fertile ones from the non-fertile ones, that’s a 100% hatch rate! The chicks are super cute, but all three have the same disconcertingly large eyes that Broody Mama’s earlier chicks had. Broody Mama, who has just a few days left until her clutch is scheduled to hatch, was joined in the shed by Broody Mama Too, who is likewise sitting on a clutch of eggs. They both have between 12 and 15 eggs crammed underneath them, so with a 1/4 fertility rate, I’m anticipating a total of maybe 6 eggs actually hatching. (Don’t bother checking that math, because I pulled those numbers from a region somewhat south of my brain. Nerds.) Gene is running out of time to build the nursery addition to the new coop, because the brooding box in the garage is at maximum capacity with the three new chicks in one section, and the twenty month-old chicks in the other. He also has yet to put the second story I’ve been requesting on the Duck Mansion, since those five ducklings are growing at a startling rate.
Wesley and Leia, the baby goats, are starting to lose their “kidness” and look like proper, albeit miniature, goats. Their horns are starting to come in, and they perfect their headbutting technique constantly. Oddly enough, Woolimina and Wesley seem to have bonded. I’ll look out the window to see Wesley rubbing his head up and down Woolimina’s nose. It’s the cutest thing ever. Woolimina being loving and social is kind of like trying to photograph Bigfoot, though – you never see it when you actually have a camera. Wesley loves pets, and comes bounding up to anyone who walks into the pasture. Leia is more like her mama, Buttercup, and only consents to cuddles after you’ve chased her around the pasture and scooped her up. I’m trying to change that behavior with my usual barrage of treats. Watermelon bites were the golden ticket with Woolimina – she comes running up to me and nuzzles my hand every time I go into the pasture, and only runs away once she’s eaten whatever I brought her. The one time I went in there without any treat, she backed up a few paces and lowered her head like she was about to gore me with her “special” horn – the one that’s broken off and sticks straight out, rather than curving gracefully back over her head like the other one. I like to think she wouldn’t actually impale me over lack of treat dispensation, but I’d to hate to be wrong.