Among the many things going on as we prepare for winter, we have been hoping for our poor tomato plants to give us a harvest before the first frost that seems to be very close given our 40 degree nights. While we haven't gotten a lot out of the tomato plants they are growing well, and have produced a few tomatoes that the Lady of the House has eaten. As you can see Above Right the one that the Lady of the House planted in a Dirt Bag has grown spectacularly well, and needs yet a new stake. We are considering digging up and potting some of our favorite tomato plants if they haven't produced by first frost so we can bring them inside.
Also in our preparations for winter I'm working on getting another hutch done since that would be quite difficult with snow on the ground. We want an extra hutch so that we can get the afore mentioned cinnamon doe from Michelle Chandler, and so when we butcher Sunny we will have some extra room. As I was working on the new hutch though I had a brilliant idea that may actually have been a good one I wanted to share with everyone. Where I work we go through pallets on a regular basis, and so I've been bringing them home one at a time in the back seat.
Mostly I have been using them to stack wood. That said, there are many things that are suggested to do with pallets, including building sheds, goat fences, and lots of other ideas. So I thought about how I could reduce our costs on making the hutches. I figured out a simple starting point with the frame that is already together, and that is using the narrow slats to make the side walls for the enclosed area! As you can see it is going together fairly well. I realized however that the very front of the hutch isn't %100 square which is going to make this a bit of an adventure. You can see the slight angle on the Left. To deal with it I'm just going to have to rip down one of the boards at an angle to fill in the space. Not a big deal, just makes me kick myself for assuming that the 2x4 I was working with for the base frame was in fact, square. Ahh well, live and learn.
The point is though, it looks like this may be a brilliant idea that isn't actually bad! I am currently considering and working up a design for how to build hutches using only the lumber from, or at least mostly the lumber from broken down pallets. If I can do so I will definitely post how that works out. Given that none of the dimensions of our normal hutches are over 4 feet it seems like it should be possible.
Other things that are going on, we butchered out Sunburst on Saturday and had him for dinner. We've tried a few different methods of cooking rabbit now, and with a bigger rabbit we now tried stew. Over all the stew was very good, but we definitely picked the wrong red wine since it has a harsh effect on the guts. It was actually much harder killing Sunburst than it was with the first litter. Not sure why exactly, but there was definitely more of a hesitation. The killing went cleanly though, and the quality of the meat and fur both were excellent. Depending on space we are definitely thinking that keeping babies out to 14 weeks is the way to go.
Speaking of babies, yesterday we moved Dawn's current litter over to their new home, the big growing out hutch. They are a much more cautious and nervous group than the first litters were, but even they seem to enjoy the bigger space and were bouncing around like popcorn once they figured out the new place wasn't going to eat them. Left you can see the reaction to "Where am I?" Below is a picture of a couple of them getting into the nice new big space and enjoying being able to run full speed.
Below are a pair of pictures of the group of them curiously and carefully investigating. The one directly below shows one of the babies crawling rather than hopping. An interesting gait where the back legs end up stretched out behind the rabbit as they move around low to the ground. Not a gait we are used to seeing from them. I'm guessing it is a cautious gait from their overall reactions. They soon however began marking, and the jumping around I mentioned.
We have also stopped weighing Dawn's litter every day and instead are now going to weighing them once a week on Saturday. We've done this because it is now scaring them too much. There is no reason to terrorize them to get weight checks every day once they can survive well on their own. Also for sanity's sake since I will be handling weighing all of the soon to be born babies for weight checks. Dealing with five fast moving and scared rabbits in addition to the little ones seems like a recipe for making my life difficult enough I'd get frustrated. It is important for me to not get frustrated with them though because the entire point is to keep their life happy, healthy, and calm.
As we prepare for the next trio of litters we always are curious how many babies we will have out of our does.
I'm betting on 8 living kits out of Dawn, 4 living kits out of Twilight, and 6 living kits out of Sunny since she only accepted breeding once. If you feel like it, weigh in here! Thursday will hopefully be a post from the Lady of the House on Twilight's Genetics.