Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another Shorty And A Stupid Mistake

Tonight is another short update.

In the last week we finally had RAIN!! Much needed for these parts. Our part of the country has been ridiculously dry, so the rain comes with great sighs of relief. Until the night it flooded our chicks. Our lovely little Cochin chicks, two surviving turkey poults, keets and random silkies got flooded in their outdoor pen. We had a few unfortunate losses, and ended up bringing the whole lot of them BACK into the living room to dry off, warm up, and hang out until we had a better shelter set-up for a few days. I had a few weeks of barn-free living at least. While I don't mind the occasional inhabitant from the farm staying with us briefly to nurse wounds or as wee little babies, I really do enjoy when they can join the general population again outside. It also reminds me of how dusty chickens can be when they are in an enclosed space. It makes me sneeze just to think about it!

I also made a very stupid mistake this week. We had received a bunny (Holland? It is black with a white stripe) as a companion for Claire's rabbit. We were told it was another female. I didn't even THINK to check said bunny's anatomy to be certain. If it had been a castrated male, a male partner for a female bunny would be fine as long as they got along well together. A female companion for a female rabbit is fine too, as long as they like each others company. However, a MALE rabbit in the company of a female rabbit tends to produce baby rabbits. For some reason I didn't even think to turn this new rabbit over to check for dangly bits. I trusted this woman, who seemed to have more experience than I did, that it was a female. I am sure that by now you can guess what gender said new rabbit is.

As soon as I put him in the same cage, he jumped on top of our female rabbit and, well, did what boy bunnies do. I took him out after about ten minutes, as soon as my brain had enough time to process his actions and realize that it probably wasn't your usual domination efforts by a female rabbit. When I turned him over and saw the tell-tale testicles (after feeling like doing an immediate rabbit castration and thumping my own head against a wall for my ignorance!), I put him back in seclusion and did some frantic searching on the interwebs for information regarding what to do if your bun has a bun in the oven.

So, a brief lesson in rabbit gestation here, to fill in everyone so we are all a little more knowledgeable. Rabbits breed quite quickly and readily (hence the term, breeding like rabbits). A rabbits gestation lasts 28-31 days. Yikes! That means little Bunny-Foo-Foo can multiply a ridiculous number of times in a year. Ovulation actually starts about 10 hours AFTER the mating act occurs, as rabbits are induced ovulators. This means our little girl bunny is probably already pregnant. In a week or two I can probably palpate her abdomen to see if I can feel any babies in there. Usually folks will breed their rabbits around 9 months of age. Since she is not spayed, and already several years old, I am HOPING she does OK and survives this whole mess. Bugger all. I really didn't want baby bunnies until we had some large breed meat rabbits and were set up for them. Silly me. I will definitely be checking next time and NOT be taking anyone's work for it on a rabbits gender.

So much for a short update. Night all!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fire Cider...It Will Cure What Ails You!

Tonight I finally got around to making up a batch of fire cider. This is one of those recipes that I keep meaning to start, but I either don't get around to getting all the ingredients at the same time, or I have them all but just feel too lazy or overwhelmed to even start slicing things up. Well, I was determined to do it NOW so we could have it ready when needed.

What exactly is fire cider, and why am I making it? I am going to be brief (you can follow the link to read more) because I want to get off to bed and I am too tired to think straight. First the why. When I was growing up, I remember my great-grandmother always cooking, baking, and creating in her kitchen. I wish I had paid more attention then, but since I was so young I am not sure it would have made much of a difference. She was from such a different era as well as place than I was. She grew up on the Russian steppes, and was an amazing cook. She could (and DID) make vodka out of anything. I have very strong scent and flavor memories associated with her. One of these is the concoctions (potions? medicines? whatever you want to call them) she would make to stave off illness or outright banish it from an infirm body. I remember one particularly strong one that knocked me on my butt as a child (our whole family was quite ill at the time with some bronchial issue), tasted of blackberry syrup and brandy, and eliminated the virus within 24 hours. It really was that impressive.

Those memories stayed in the back of my brain until a few months ago when I ran across this recipe for fire cider. I have often made up my own herbal teas and tisanes, but this one just reminded me so much of something my great grandmother would make, that I wanted to try it and perfect my own recipe for the family. This version of fire cider should be excellent whether it is used to prevent a cold or flu from taking hold, or to expel one from the body. It is also useful in maintaining a healthy digestive system, which has become an important issue for my hubby and partner. When his gut doesn't hurt, the rest of his brain and body feel better.

If you are knowledgeable about herbs, you can use those which are most relevant to your particular needs. If you are not knowledgeable, please either find someone who is, or just use the basic recipe.

I borrowed this recipe and tinkered a bit with it to suit my own tastes and what I could find at the store. I had to substitute some cherry peppers for the habanero/cayennes (although I would have much preferred the latter), so I am hoping it will have the heat I am looking for. Next time I will try to find the peppers I want, rather than make a substitution. Whatever chiles you use, remember that your cider will be spicier if you include the seeds, so be aware of that when making your choices. I ended up chopping the chiles finely, with most of the seeds as they are a milder pepper. I am hoping it doesn't become too spicy, but if it does, I will add a little more honey to cool the effects a bit. I also used rosemary, mint and sage fresh picked from the garden. I am now wishing I had put in more mint, but it can always be added a little later on if necessary. I used a 1/2 gallon jar and expanded my ingredients accordingly as I know that if the recipe works as I expect it to, we will use it up during the coming winter months. I may try a little turmeric root next time as well, as it has immune-boosting properties. I will try to post some photos of the concoction tomorrow.

Remember, fresh quality ingredients will work better than dried, conventionally grown ones. Ask around at your local Farmers' Market for the ingredients you need. For a smaller amount of fire cider, use a quart jar instead, and simply use a smaller amount of the roots. You may have to tinker with the amounts to get the taste you prefer. We like ginger a LOT, so I use more than other people might.

Fire Cider (adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s version HERE)

1 head Garlic, peeled and chopped fine

i large Ginger root, peeled and chopped fine

1 large Horseradish root, peeled and sliced

1 large Onion, diced (I used white)

1-2 Chile Peppers (Cayenne, Habanero, whatever flavor/heat combination you prefer), sliced thin

1-2 Oranges, zested then juiced (lime would also be fantastic)

Herbs (I used Rosemary, Peppermint, and Sage), crushed then chopped fine

1 quart Apple Cider Vinegar (preferably a brand with the mother of vinegar)

Honey to taste, once it has fermented to your liking

Slice your ingredients and layer them in a half-gallon jar. Cover the ingredients about 2-3 inches above the herbs. Cover and place the jar in a cool dark corner (closets work well) for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. You can let it sit longer if you feel it needs to be more potent (although I would not let it go beyond 3 months or so without straining it). Strain out the herbs and other material, and place in a clean glass jar with a lid; add the honey at this point to your taste preference. It can be kept refrigerated for several weeks. When you feel a little under the weather, have a small glass of it; the cider should taste spicy and sweet.