Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awash in a sea of baby rabbits.

Awash in a sea of baby rabbits, there are worse things in the world if you enjoy small fuzzy creatures. Right now we temporarily have 23 babies, 13 teenagers, 5 Creme breeders, and 2 American Blue breeders on the ground. It's quite a hand full.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two litters born, two to go.

I always forget just how small new baby rabbits are when they're just born. Especially when I've been handling all of the older rabbits regularly. The litter in my hand there is all six babies in Dawn's newest litter of kits.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bunnyday: Introducing Sunshine, babies, and a new hutch.

Today I'm beginning with Sunshine since I promised we'd meet her, but there's a lot going on rabbit wise. So let's get on with it so we can get to everything! Above and Below the Cut are Sunshine. She is Dawn's sister that we got from Michelle Chandler since she is downsizing her herd.
Sunshine is an experienced mother who we hope will have a slightly more even temperament than Dawn who, while she's a great mother tends to pass on her nervousness. Sunshine seems to really enjoy the cooling stone that we have in her hutch, and has been spending most of her time there after the traditional rabbit exploring the new space period. One thing we quickly noticed about Sunshine is how differently her face is shaped.

Right is Dawn, due to the slight angle differences it may be difficult to tell, but her face is wider than her sisters. A solid broad head, and a thick front of the head. I don't know what the standard for showing Cremes says, but the Lady of the House and I agree that the broader head is probably a better thing for health in the long run.

Conformation wise Dawn and Sunshine are very similar other than the head. As you can see from the photo of Sunshine Top and Dawn Right, they are both very blocky in how they're built. Dawn is a bit broader abeam due to being just about to give birth, possibly as I'm writing this. As you can tell though it really is mostly the head that is different between the sisters.

Then there's Dorado.

Sadly for his studly pride, Dorado looks terrible right now. He is blowing his coat all over the place, and thus looks patchy as can be, he also wouldn't pose for a conformation shot for me. However, we can show off his meaty block head and Dorado Special (TM) flop ears that sometimes pass on to his offspring. For all of his strangely shaped head, he is a solidly built well conformed rabbit otherwise. He also has a huge benefit neither Dawn nor Sunshine have, and that's temperament. Dorado love people, being petted, and more being petted. He is our ambassador rabbit when people come by and want to pet one of the rabbits. If we have babies they're obviously happy to interact, but of the adults Dorado is the happiest to be around people and turns into a bunny shaped puddle when you pet him, only to hop up, upset when you stop.

But, as I said, conformation discussion is actually the least of what's going on right now.

First of all, and I don't have photos for this due to concerns for my safety, Twilight has given birth as of this morning. I only found 3 kits, all healthy. We don't know if that's because there's only three or if I caught her mid birth which is unlikely. If it's just three we'll live with it, and just hope she isn't retaining dead kits. That is a slight concern for us because she's been taking flying leaps up and down from the second level in apparent joy, and we're just hoping she didn't hurt anything doing so. Those of you who have been following along are probably going, "But wait, her babies were in with her last Thursday!" And you're correct! I sort of slipped up some on timing which led to a bit of a scramble to get the new growing out hutch Below done.
I'm actually fairly proud of this monstrosity in no small part because I got it together purely with work on Saturday and going in 2 hours late to work on Monday. Thanks to this I'm a bit sore, and I got all of the babies into their new hutch Monday morning before Twilight decided she needed to dismember them.

This new hutch is an example of learning from experience every time, this time it's 7 feet long to allow a bit of overhang on each side to keep the food covered and prevent as much moisture from getting in. As you can see from the photo Right I incorporated a second level to allow the rabbits more room to move around and have a good time. The back wall is made of 2x4s, not so much because they're ideal or what I wanted to do, but because I didn't have the time to pull apart the 3 pallets it would have taken to get the wood for that. The second level is made of pallet bits, but not gotten by carefully pulling the pallets apart, I took a circular saw and cut the planks out at each support member since I didn't need long boards. The funny part is, even with the mad rush due to being an idiot and having to get everything done Now Now Now, this is still my best hutch. There are ways it would have been better if I'd had an extra 3 hours to pull pallets apart, but even with the hurry I did things as correctly as I can when doing it on my own. The babies seem fairly happy in it, but I'm already seeing ways to improve, and in the future hopefully I'll have two hutches for this many babies, so expect to see another hutch springing up in the next six weeks before the round of babies currently being born needs to be put into grow out hutches.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lots to learn with chickens.

Today's grand plans for the blog post have gone awry as I forgot to bring the SD card with photos on them making it remarkably difficult to use the photos I'd need to look at our newest breeder on the farm, and do some conformation comparisons. That said, we have a new Creme on the homestead, Sunshine is her name. She is Dawn's sister that we didn't end up selecting because Dawn has a bigger hindquarters. So next week we'll do a proper introduction to her.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My newest creation, IT LIVES!!!! Muahaha . . ahem.

It's a new week, and life continues to move on. The stresses of last week while not entirely gone have been mitigated, and we're getting back on track with our lives. Not entirely coincidentally it's stopped raining for a couple days, and while it may be hot it has allowed us to get back down to business with the rabbits.
Specifically, rabbit hutch creation which leads to happy rabbits. As you can see, barring being painted and the angle braces I'm going to put on around the legs when ever I have a few minutes and some scrap wood, the working prototype of the new model of breeder hutches is up and functional. Above is actually some rabbits in said hutch. The ladder to the left of the hutch in the photo Left gives a nice size comparison for you. As with everything, there were learning experiences involved in building the hutch. For one, make sure when you do measurements, make sure in getting the ideal measurements on one side you don't throw off the other side so much you have to do significant modification to make it work. The side with wire on it had to have 2 extra 2x4s cut and added in to give the wire something to be stapled in to because the front of the hutch is over 3' tall. I figured this would allow the rabbits to be able to utilize the second level I made for them better, and I'm sure it will when they start going up there. Just in the future I will have to make certain I don't make it so tall the wire is floating in the wind.

 On the up side, there is plenty and more than plenty of room. The smallest portion, the nesting area is clearly big enough for Twilight to fit in as you can see Right. I made the nesting area smaller and tighter to make the mothers more comfortable with it since smaller seems to be just as good if not better according to them. I made the small side hatch so I can get in to check on the babies easily. The first night the hutch was finished it got its first test, we had a clever pest visit last night, a raccoon. The Lady of the House heard thumping around down from the rabbits and grumbling about "They're just being playful late at night" I went on out to check in a towel and unlaced boots. I promptly came back up for the dog, pants, and a rifle after seeing a raccoon on the tree next to the hutch, running up and away. Everyone's ok, and it's good to know the hiding spot serves its purpose of making them feel safe, but I'm not happy to see a raccoon for the first time since moving in.

Speaking of pests, let's move on to the squash which seem to be the epicenter of a bugsplosion. We've finally resorted to stronger options than hand picking because we don't want to lose the plants! We're still hand picking and killing the beetles ourselves, but as you can see Left we also got our hands on yellow sticky straps, and that's the result of a day of them being up. They seem to be fairly effective, though not 100%. We also got Neem Oil to try to act as a bit of pest control. It interferes with bugs ability to feed thus killing them off and protecting your plants. It hasn't yet stopped them from mating as you can see Left in the lovely squash flower. We're still doing regular checks and bug killing rampages. I seem to mostly specialize in killing mating pairs. What that actually means is, I'm bad at sneaking up on them and catching them on their own the way the Lady of the House is.

I also found a bug that looked a lot like a Japanese Beetle  but with vastly different markings than a Japanese Beetles. I had intended to take photos of it and then kill it on principle, but it flew off as I was snapping the last photo. Anyone know what this is? I haven't had time to look it up yet due to work + life. I still am fairly happy with having gotten the photos because it's kind of cool looking.

Last, but most certainly not least, especially not in their dinosaurian minds, chickens. It's hard to really get a sense of scale from the photos, but they've grown a lot since we got them. We did in fact identify the method they were using to get out, and so they're in when we want them to be in, and are only out when we're around to observe and protect them. The social structure is interesting to observe as the head bird I've been calling Haystack Below Left stays head bird, and the challengers rotate. There is a whole lot to say about the chickens, but for now I'm going to leave it at, they eat lots, they poop lots, and they make a lot of noise. The Lady of the House is really enjoying having them for their chickenness alone as well as collecting their feathers for art and craft purposes.

I hope everyone is doing well in this mid summer, and as a friend says, "Stay out of the hot sun."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quick chickens on the prowl.

 A short post today as things haven't really settled down. I didn't touch on our mini dinosaurs at all yesterday in the late post, so today, CHICKENS!.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Better late than never

Life has been more than a bit hectic since the last post, nearly none of it involving the Homestead fortunately or unfortunately. As it is, the Homestead just moves along rapidly as we come in to what would normally be the heat of the summer, and seems to instead be monsoon season.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Late to no post today

Things have been flat out bonkers, the post will be significantly delayed if it happens at all today.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

Today in the USA is Independence Day and around the world there are protests occurring for many reasons. So given today and the purpose of homesteading I'd like to take today to think a little about independence, and what it means both in a general sense, and in the specifics of our homestead.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The rain keeps coming, and pests thrive.

Since last post has been remarkably light on sun, so we have been less productive than we'd like to have been. I don't have trellises done for squash, really, nothing much has been done other than picking the 5ish cups of strawberries from our yard on Saturday. Mind you, it is at least a sweet, rewarding sort of thing to have gotten done. It certainly isn't the burst of Saturday activity we usually manage.