Sometimes when I’m following a farm page on Facebook, or a homesteading blog…it’s easy to think they never make mistakes. We bloggers so often only share the victories. After all, mistakes are embarrassing, and who wants to be judged, especially when you’re already feeling 2 inches tall? But, mistakes are important and inevitable, just like victories. In fact, some of the most memorable lessons are learned through oopsies, not successes. ::cough::GOATS::cough:: So here are 3 of my mistakes for March.
I killed my milk kefir culture.
I blame it on the multiple day power outages we’ve had this winter, but the real culprit is probably doing too much at once.
I had milk kefir, water kefir, kombucha, sourdough, fermented chicken feed, sauerkraut, and cream fraiche going when the milk kefir death happened.
The kefir was awesome while it lasted, but it became next to impossible to manage when we lost the ability to sterilize jars (no running water), clean hands (running water), keep milk cold (power) and so on. When you’re dealing with fermented items, cleanliness is pretty darn important. When you haven’t had power for three days, cleanliness does not exist…anywhere.
The kefir death decision sort of made itself, but in truth, I probably could have made it work, if I hadn’t had all of the other items on my plate.
RIP, milk kefir.
My Fermented Chicken Feed Got Moldy.
Another power related issue.
When you don’t have running water, conservation of the water you DO have becomes crucial.
Since we’ve been fermenting pelleted chicken food, it soaks up A LOT of water. Pretty much every day I was adding half a gallon of water to my bucket of food.
So with only a few gallons of drinkable water saved for us, and our outside water tank running low for animal use and toilet flushing, etc…the fermented food got the short straw.
And, OK, it probably would have been fine with just that. When the lights came back on, it just had a tiny skin of mold on top.
I scooped the mold scum off, and started keeping the water levels up again.
But, that was the beginning of the end. Not only was I out of my routine…I didn’t feel quite the same way about my fermented chicken food.
So…I avoided it.
And then…it got REALLY moldy.
Wasteful, I know. I KNOW.
And, I had bubbles and yeasty smell going before!! ::sigh::
But, the time had come…it was no longer salvageable. Into the compost it went.
No quitting though, the chickens really like their fermented food. So, I’m going to get back on the proverbial horse, and get another batch going.
It’s not that hard, and listen, even if you mess up…it’s not that difficult or expensive to start another batch.
Right?(Perhaps the better term for this one is potential failure, not mistake?)
I’m living proof. I’ll even post a photo of my new batch this week on Facebook…if I don’t, feel free to call me out. (Nicely, of course!)
UPDATE: My fermentation gurus at Les Farms weighed in on this post via Facebook, and said that the scum on the bucket is actually a GOOD sign. Just to be clear, the food WAS moldy (fuzzy and spores all the way through), but the photo is of the bottom bucket liquid. It was so rich looking, I just couldn’t toss it yet. And, I’m so glad I didn’t, since apparently that scum is the “mother”. If you’ve fermented liquid before like kombucha or apple cider vinegar, you might be familiar with that term. It doesn’t look like the mothers/scoby that form on those cultures, but according to the expert, it’s all good. So, when I make my new batch, I’ll just add the inner bucket (well cleaned) back in with more food and water. No need for additional culturing agents (like apple cider vinegar).
I made a rabbit husbandry mistake.
Kefir and fermented food aside, this is the mistake that really makes me squirm.
No, it’s not the end of the world, I’m sure it’ll be fine and both bunnies are happily munching on hay right now.
But, the situation is this. When we bought the rabbits, the previous owner had put them together and then went to do chores. So while rabbits are known for being, umm…prolific, she wasn’t positive that Sweet Pea was preggo. Especially since, well, these were “virginal” rabbits.
Fine, fine, we’ll just wait it out. No big deal. I mean, a rabbit gestation is no longer than 31 days. Not long to wait, right?
Well, yesterday, I’ll admit, I started getting antsy. What if she wasn’t bred? We’d then be wasting time and money and feed. We’re not keeping pet rabbits here.
So, I went onto a popular rabbit keeping Facebook page, and asked…how would an expert handle this situation? I want to learn, man.
Someone that wasn’t the page admin, but seemingly an in-the-know rabbit person, said to put the doe (Sweet Pea) back in with the buck (Butch). If she was aggressive and not receptive, she’s almost 100% preggers, but if she let him do his thing, then she wasn’t, and you’ll have babies soon.
Sounds good on paper, yes?
So, we took a break from work to enable a little rabbit sex between SP and Butch.
It was interesting to say the least, and even seemed to get Brewster, the rooster in the mood….watch out hens. Spring fever, eh?
Unfortunately, last night, the page admin finally responded and said, “Sorry, was away. I normally suggest NOT doing a “test breeding”, which is what you did. She wasn’t receptive, so she’s probably pregnant. Some does will still accept a buck even if they’re pregnant. That can result in a double pregnancy with rabbits. Then you lose both litters and possibly harm the doe. I suggest that you have a nest box ready if she starts pulling fur, give it to her along with some straw for nest building. I suggest that you wait 30 days from today before you try again.”
Doh! And, cringe.
Here I was trying to do “just the right thing” and ended up potentially causing harm to my doe. I’ll say this, the first advice I received about a test breeding is VERY prevalent, which is doubly why I want to share this experience with you guys. I don’t want you to feel crappy about your rabbit husbandry like I did.
Mike and I talked at length about it last night…and I don’t know what the % chance of a double pregnancy is, but even so, I don’t think I’ll risk it in the future. **Experienced rabbit people, care to weigh in on this topic!?
Anyhow, we’ll see how it goes.
Learning curve, people. It exists with everything, but, oh man, is it tough when animals are concerned.
Care to share any mistakes you’ve made recently? It’s cleansing to get them out there, I promise.