Thursday, October 3, 2013

One kit down, and decision making for early winter.

 We had a sad, though not entirely unexpected morning coming out to find one of Twilight's kits dead. We didn't do weight checks this morning because of the cold, but yesterday afternoon's weight check one of them had lost a Lot of weight all at once, and didn't have a nursing impulse when I tried to get it to nurse off a very obliging Twilight. On the up side, all of the other kits are doing particularly well!

The kit Top is obviously one of Twilight's blue kits, and Left is one of Halley's smaller kits. The Lady of the House kindly held the kits for me to get photos this time. As you can see both are healthy, and it took a good number of shots to be able to get one where they weren't flailing around wildly which seems to be their default awake state. The decision mentioned in the title is that we've decided to do one more breeding, at least of Twilight and Dawn. Between the mass fatality of the first litters due to being 2 weeks too early, the heat sterility, and moderately sized litters being the norm we're below the 52 kits we need to eat for the year. One more breeding of at least those two should put us over the 52 mark, and let us be able to share our rabbits some. It's slightly risky due to the cold, but as long as we're smart about how we do things it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
In a slight digression, we are very happy with Twilight's hutch, and she has taken to placing the kits nest in something of an odd place. Instead of at the way back where I'd expect it it's up near the front. I don't know how much of that is her, and how much of that is her very active small kits. The one thing I really meant to do before she gave birth was put a bar across the front of the nesting area to prevent kits that are too small from getting out onto the wire and freezing to death. So far it hasn't been a problem, but it's a concern. For the next version of this hutch I'm going to continue the support bar all the way across, but I'm definitely keeping that size nesting area since it seems to work out so well. As you can see Left while I'm poking around trying to get a look, I'm contending with a Twilight in my face. Since the first injury from her she hasn't attacked me while I've been checking her kits, but I've also been careful. I don't want to be bitten in the face by a rabbit, so I still use the side door despite the main door working fine for reaching the kits in the hutch.
Here they are in their nest. One of the reasons we've decided to take the risk of doing one more breeding cycle is how well Twilight and Dawn have been doing at making good warm nests for their kits. We've also been able to save the fur Dawn pulled in preparation for a litter that never came which we'll be able to augment any nest that's thin, or make up for any nest that gets wet so we don't have a repeat of Spring. We figure given the heartiness of our moms, and their experience, we'll give it a shot. As long as they still have a 3 month down time from kits they should be ok by our standards. I say by our standards because many people breed year round no matter what, and it works out for them. We are just more comfortable giving our girls a rest, especially with the increased stress and decreased growth that's a result of the very cold temperatures.
The chickens are doing well, and have been eating from their food dish from time to time as it gets cooler, but they still barely eat anything according to the official expectations of what chickens their age should be eating. There's a sort of pool between the Lady of the House and I about whether or not the girls will lay before spring or not. I think none of them will lay, and that we'll have to wait out the winter for any eggs. She thinks a few of them will lay, but some won't but we will get Some eggs. We'll see who is correct about that, but I think the shorter days due to being on a hill cutting dawn and with a ridge line cutting our sunset almost 40 minutes early will end up with us not having any eggs this winter. We shall see.

As a sign I REALLY need to get that wood shelter up, our garden seems to be officially, done. The tomato plants are starting to die off finally. We need to get the last harvest of red tomatoes and those starting to ripen, and cut free the green tomatoes and learn to use them in recipes. We've gotten a fairly decent year for a first go at it. Now it's time to save seeds for next year, prepare to get garlic in the ground, and hopefully lay down the base of the beds for next spring so I don't have to do all of the digging ever come Spring again.
 And lastly just because she's pretty, if spiders don't totally creep you out, the garden spider that's made her home at the foot of the painted rabbit hutch. I just wish she ate wasps.

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