Memphis Backyard Farmer

BJ’s Favorite Spot
May 27, 2013, 11:10 pm
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ImageWhen I’m working in the yard, I like to let the rabbits roam. They chase each other, play games, munch on grass and flowers, and explore. I worked on beekeeping equipment all day Saturday, and so turned the rabbits loose for the day. BJ is a rabbit we had serious health problems with early on. Somehow he punctured his abdomen in his cage, and had an intestinal protrusion that we thought would be fatal. I honestly thought it was a digestive problem related to his feed. I was out of town when the event happened, and by photo and research, I thought BJ had become severely constipated and had blown out his rectum. This is known to happen in rabbits. I had the boys change his feed to hay only, had them isolate him in a separate cage, and keep me posted until I arrived back home. I honestly thought he’d soon be dead.

But by the time I arrived a couple of days later, BJ’s protrusion had shrunk to the point where I could see that it was coming from a small slit in his lower abdomen. To me, that pretty much sealed the deal; he was a goner. I was ready to put him out of his misery (because there’s no way I would pay to have this fixed with a vet, if it was even possible to do so). But because of the boys’ affection for BJ, they begged me to hold off. The piece of intestine appeared to shrink gradually, much like an umbilical cord does on an infant, until it eventually dropped off. Meanwhile, this skinny, scrawny rabbit fattened up until he is now one of the prettiest bunnies in the rabbitry. He’s quick, has a great demeanor, and a beautiful coat. Here he is, relaxing with me on the patio Saturday.

Who Knew That Being Negative Could Be Such a Good Thing?
May 18, 2013, 2:17 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: , , , , ,

I live in Tennessee, and I’ve been able to take advantage of some resources offered by my local extension office. I took the Master Gardener course a couple of years ago and it taught me an incredible amount about plants and gardening and soils and – too much to mention. But throughout the course and afterward, I’ve been less than satisfied with the research done and resources offered by the UT Extension regarding organic farming methods. Other states’ extension programs are doing great research in this area, including Cornell University and University of Vermont. UVM has some great resources for small farmers, including some terrific webinars. I’ve just finished watching “Basic Soil and Soil Testing” with Dr. Heather Darby for the second time and wanted to recommend it to those of you who are really serious about gardening and farming. You can find the webinar recording here.

Here are a few tidbits:

  • Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) – Who knew that being negative was such a good thing?
  • The role of compost / organic matter in your soil (SPOILER: It’s not what you think!)
  • The importance of micro organisms in your soil
  • Different types of soil organic matter (SOM)
  • Where to spend your money for the quickest production boost: “Lime is your cheapest form of fertilizer. The pH of your soil will highly influence how available many of the nutrients in your soil are.” “You can change pH rather quickly and for not much money and will have the biggest impact on your crop production.

Pop some popcorn, send the kids outside, and set aside a block  of time to watch the webinar. It’s an hour and a half long, but well worth it!

The Fruit of Our Labor
May 16, 2013, 10:24 pm
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FIrst TomatoesI walked out this morning to check on the garden, and it seems that overnight four tomatoes blew out of the ends of my blossoms. They weren’t there yesterday. They’re here today.

The rain has come so often the last few weeks that I haven’t been able to do many of the chores that need to be done. Monday evening I finally got some okra in the ground, along with some kale and spinach transplants. In order to get the transplants in, I had a tremendous amount of cleanup work to do from the spring weeds. I also planted my rosemary and thyme in the front herb bed, and seeded the other herb bed with basil.

Today, while the sun is shining (it rained early this morning, and more is on tap for tomorrow), I’m going to attempt the following list:

  • Clean the rabbit cages
  • Turn compost
  • Trip and trellis grape vines
  • Plant more squash
  • Plant oregano

I’m hoping that in between the rain tomorrow and a day of company on Sunday that I can butcher six of my rabbits. That will leave my breeders, Bugsy and Ruby, as my lone rabbits for the hot summer months.

How’s your garden? What do you need to do today?