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Archive for December, 2010

This has been ONE LONG WEEK!  To be precise, ten days is more like it.  We’ve had four litters of rabbits, most of which are doing splendidly.  Sadly, though, we lost one entire litter.

For reasons we don’t know, Amber, one of our brown New Zealand crosses, rejected her litter after three days.  We couldn’t really try and foster them, because the other does had full litters, but we did try and hand feed them.  It didn’t work out well and we lost them.

It’s nature.  We expect a certain amount of this, but it’s still no fun at all.

We will give Amber another chance at motherhood in the spring.  We give all our does two chances.  I think she will do much better next time.

The other litters seem to be doing well.  Topaz, Amber’s sister, is doing a much better job.  She seems bewildered all the time, but her litter is doing well, except for one white bunny.  The next day or two will tell for that little one.  Topaz’ mother, Misty, is a mean, vile creature (she bit me yesterday and growled at me afterward), but she is a great mother.  Her litter is in fantastic shape.  Helen, who produced our surprise bunch is a great mum also.  Her babies are beautiful white bundles of energy.  Their eyes opened yesterday.  It is so exciting.

As mentioned in previous posts, we have no more plans to breed until February, so we won’t have babies again until March.  That means we will have a small number of rabbits available for pets, breeders or meat at the end of April or beginning of May.  Stay tuned for more information.

 

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I am linking to an article that describes terror groups wanting to poison Americans with Ricin and Cyanide at Restaurants and Hotels.  Just one more reason why we grow what we can and eat locally produced for the rest.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/20/eveningnews/main7169266.shtml

 

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Update on Bunnies

About 10 minutes after I finished my post last night, I heard Brittan call out, “Come here quick, Misty is eating something weird.  Is it a baby?”  Turns out, our little gray psycho was eating a placenta.  In a matter of a quarter hour, she produced 7 little bundles of dark gray, wiggling matter.

Since she had taken everything out of the nest box and built a nest on the wire, we had do a quick move of everyone.  I held Misty, who was unimpressed by the activity, while B moved straw, fur and babies back into the nest box.  I quickly placed Misty back with her babies.  She sniffed around, found them and returned to active duty as if nothing had happened.

I checked on them this a.m. and apart from moving the whole bunch of them to the front corner of the nest box, everyone seems well.

Since I was already being invasive, I decided to check on Helen’s kits as well.  Under her watchful gaze, I gently pulled back the fur covering her little ones and counted five.  They are quite wiggly and warm.  Since I was apprehensive I may have miscounted.  There may be 4 or there may be 6, but 5 looks like the right number to me.  After checking that they were warm and seemed to have eaten, I quickly covered them up, apologized to Helen for the intrusion, and came in here to tell you about it.

This is all very exciting for us.  We’re still nervous, mostly because we’ve read that mortality rate in winter kindle is quite high.  It makes me wonder if I should bring home the does we have out at the farm.  On the other hand, we’re trying to be as natural as possible and the does out there have plenty of straw for their nest boxes.  I’ll probably err on the side of natural.  If we lose any litters, I will not breed any of the does again until February, so they can get through the worst of the winter.

I do love this farming gig.

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We Have Baby Bunnies!

In a surprise turn of events, we have a nice kindle of baby bunnies.  The surprise comes from a variety of causes.  First, we didn’t know the mother was old enough to breed.  We have been growing her out in a cage at the house and intended to put her in a Rabbit Ranger out at the farm in a few weeks.  Guess we were wrong about her age.

Second surprise is we have no idea who the father is.  We bought them at the auction and put them in a community pen for the drive home.  I suspect the father is in our freezer, as the two boys we still have are not yet sexually mature.

Brittan called me at work on Monday and said that Helen was pulling hair like crazy.  I told her to get a nest box in there right away.  We were stunned, because we did not know she’d been bred (today is the 31st day since we brought them home and gestation is 31 days.  Hmmm…)

B put the nest box in and we watched Helen build a nice nest.  Then…nothing.  When I fed them this morning and cleaned the cages there was no sign of labor or babies.  Tonight after supper I went down to put straw in her cage an noticed the fur moving in the nest box.  Upon further investigation, I saw a baby rabbit.  I called Brittan down and she also took a peek.  We know there are at least 3 kits.  There may be more.  We’ll wait a few days to find out.  It’s all very exciting.  Brittan is hovering over the cage while I type this entry.

We have been expecting Misty, our gray mini rabbit, to kindle, and she’s having fun building a nest, then moving it all over her cage, but I’m not convinced she’s really pregnant.  She may just be psychotic.  We bred her to G Daddy, with whom she’s been bred before.  Our beautiful brown does, Topaz and Amber, are from that breeding.  Time will tell with Misty.

Funny how intentional breedings sometimes have complications, but leave a couple rabbits in the back of a truck, and, bam, Bob’s your uncle.

Can you tell we’re excited?

 

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Our girls are now producing enough beautiful, tasty, healthy, amazing eggs that we can make them available on a limited basis for only $3 a dozen.  They have received rave reviews from those who have tried a dozen so far.  We’ve heard, “This reminds me of the eggs I used to eat as a little girl” and, “My daughter loves them and she doesn’t usually like eggs.”  It makes us very happy to hear things like that.

Whether you get pastured eggs from us, or from some local source near you, once you taste one, you will never confuse them with “organic” or ‘cage free’ eggs from the supermarket.  You can tell the difference in the shell, in the white, in the yolk and in the taste.  Your heart and your taste buds will thank you.

If you want a dozen, just pop us an email or give us a call and we’ll make arrangements.  Yum.

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In the wake of losing our first kindle of baby bunnies and the discovery that our goats are NOT pregnant, we made some decisions that will altar the livestock mix around here.  Next spring we will add another Dexter calf so that Butter can have a companion.  We also plan to breed her mid summer.  Also in the Spring we will add some Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Red chickens as well as Bourbon Red and Narragansett turkeys.  We will keep you updated on those arrivals later.

January will see three new arrivals and we are totally excited.

First up is “Karma”, the Smooth Collie.  We are so grateful to Glendale Farm Collies for making her available to us.  There has been an empty space since Dream passed away last summer and it was time to get another collie.  Karma will be trained as a stock dog as we have realized how badly we already need one.  That training will take quite a while, but the cost of a fully trained dog was way out of our reach.

The day after we get Karma, we will take a little jog up the road to Adairsville, GA and get “Amram”, a Katahdin male lamb.  We went to see him a couple weeks back, but he won’t be weaned until right after Christmas.  We’ll pick him up in early January.

Last, but not least, please welcome, “Meshak”.  Meshak is a tri color Nigerian Dwarf buck goat.  We reserved him over the weekend from Sandra Miller at 4 Boot Farm where we got our other goats and our donkeys.  Is he cute as a button or what?

By April, we expect to have ALL our foundation animals (with the exception of fish) on the farm.  Our plan is to begin breeding all our own livestock, with the exception of broiler chickens.  It will take a couple years to get our momentum and we’ll have to buy a few feeder animals along the way, but our direction is set.

BTW, I am so lucky to be married to a woman who is as excited about livestock as I am.  Actually, she might be even MORE excited than I am.

 

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For months we’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our expected baby goats.  We acquired our Nigerian Dwarf Does, Sunny and Fawn, already bred, back in July.  Since that time, we’ve watched them, enjoyed them, dare I say, pampered them, in anticipation of multiple little uns joining the family around Thanksgiving.

Well, the day came and went.  We try to avoid medical intervention because we’re attempting to be as natural as possible in raising livestock, and we considered calling in a vet.  B and I read everything we could about the goat gestation cycle and signs that would signal the onset of labor.  By the time the does, who have a history of being on time or early, were about 4 days late, I took matters into my own hands (literally) and did as thorough a check up as my lack of experience would allow.  What I discovered was, two chubby, non pregnant, spoiled rotten, gorgeous little goats.  There is no sign of udders filling at all. In baseball terms, “Swing and a miss”…twice.

We’re bummed.  Brittan was especially disappointed.  Eventually, we had to conclude,  that’s nature.  We’ll just try again in the spring.  Ah, the learning experiences sure do add up around here.

 

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