Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The snow is gone, our seeds are sprouting, and the next round of rabbit breeding begins Thursday!

Yesterday was a full day around the homestead. After work I came home and put up private area walls in the growing out hutch so we can try housing two breeding does together with Halley and Comet. This morning they seem to be settling in well, though they are still a bit cautious about the camera.

When we were first contemplating having the two does in a hutch together for breeding, one of my primary concerns was being able to tell the two of them apart. I figured we'd be able to mark one of their ears with something and that would be that. However, as they've grown up their similarity is less of a problem because we can tell them apart quite easily. One is lighter, and the other is darker. The one on the Above Left is Halley. Below Left is Comet. Halley is also more outgoing and friendly with us. Our current plan for their breeding is to have one breed with Umbra, and the other with Dorado. 

But wait, Dorado's their father! That's a crazy level of inbreeding. You are absolutely correct that it's horrible inbreeding wise, but we're not keeping any of their kits, they are all going to meat. There's more to it than just convenience though. If we wanted more bigger kits we'd have both breed with Umbra. So why would we breed back to their father with one of them? The main reason is to check what Dorado contributes to his kits. By breeding daughter to father you get the extreme of dad's genetics just as by breeding son to mother you get the extreme of mom's genetics. It lets us evaluate his genes and see if he's worth keeping as a stud when we get access to more stock or not. Now, we like Dorado a lot, he's got a Great personality, but if he has hidden traits that are undesirable we won't continue using him when we have other options. If he is fairly solid though as this inbreeding will tell us then we may just. If he is not then we will have him neutered and bring him inside as a house rabbit since we enjoy his personality so much, and would like to see how having a pet rabbit works out for us. We have gotten quite a lot more exposure to rabbits lately than we ever had before.

The next order of business, seeds! As you can see from Above and Right some of our seeds are coming up with a vengeance. The large seed heads are mostly sun flower seeds that have popped up and are growing fast. There are also three varieties of tomato seed that are up, starting with the one hybrid variety we are growing. There are also a bunch of amaranth seeds coming up, but they seem to mostly be growing in any hole but the ones the Lady of the House specifically planted them. As long as they grow we don't mind, but it is a little amusing when only a couple seedlings are coming up in their designated rows, but we keep finding amaranth seedlings on the other end of the starter tray.

We are very excited about being able to get what we have in the ground, and plant seeds that you have to start in ground once we are no longer in fear of frost in about a month and a half. We are going to be starting to take our herb garden Right outside every day soon. After all, it does need to get regular walks that it hasn't been getting due to the weather. More seriously though having the herb garden outside will get it a Lot more sun than even our very sunny living room gets it. Some of the older plants are looking a little iffy at this point so some good solid sun will do them a world of good. The new sprouts in the two pots in focus are doing wonderfully.

On the not so good side in plants there is the Lady of the Houses's poor chocolate mint Right. It smells and tastes as delicious as it sounds, but if you look closely around the center of the photo you see little things on the plant. It is covered in aphids, and has been for the entire winter. She has been religiously spraying it with home made pesticide using pyrethrins which come from garlic. We can do a post at some point on how to make them. They are very effective though, and we have no idea how the aphids aren't losing that fight. So to avoid contamination we are going to burn the poor thing since we clearly can't kill the infestation. Once that is done, we will have the quarantine window sill free to grow other plants, and start anew on the chocolate mint.
 And finally, what everyone comes for, the pictures of baby rabbits!
Twilight's kits are doing very very well. Right now they seem to be averaging about 50 grams larger than the average size of any other litter at this age. The biggest baby is 660 grams and the smallest is 526 grams. The spread between the smallest and largest is substantial, but that doesn't mean that the runt isn't thriving. The largest kit gained 56 grams between yesterday and today, and the smallest gained 59 grams, so I'm not concerned about the little one.

You all may remember that we tried putting more food dishes in to help make sure that the small kits in Dawn's last litter didn't get enough. Well, we started doing that Saturday as soon as we noticed Twilight's litter going for her pellets. Especially given her tendency to knock them sprawling when they go near her food. As soon as there was a food dish in their nesting area they began eating from it. Twilight was trying to defend her food from them through yesterday, but by today as you can see in the background of these two photos Left she has given up on it, and the babies eat anything they can reach While I don't see Twilight ever being the kind of mother like Dawn that lets her babies stand on her face to get to the food, at least she's stopped kicking them around the hutch when ever they try to get it. I am confident that we can re breed Twilight now, and that her kits will be just fine to grow out in three weeks when we take them out. We probably won't have time to breed her until Thursday, but that's fine, giving them a few more days with mom is no problem.

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