In Like a Lamb

The old-timers say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.  It’s been pretty lambish all month, so we might be in for a drastic change next week.  We took advantage of the cool, foggy morning to do a little gardening before the sun got up and going.  In July an 80 degree day is pretty nice.  In March, it’s a bit too hot for comfort.

The first part of the day was spent weeding the strawberry patch and spreading moldy hay the goats didn’t eat over the winter as mulch.  Weeding shouldn’t be such an ordeal, but last year we quadrupled the size of the patch in early spring, then never mulched or weeded it the rest of the year.  Lesson learned.  We pulled all the weeds, moved a couple of strawberry plants, and put down a thick layer of mulch.  To keep Tank from burying his bones and pieces of chicken in the refreshed garden we put up an electric fence around it.  While the fence does nothing to keep goats in, we can at least use it to keep dogs out.

Speaking of the goats, we’ve been moving them to fresh pasture every couple days.  As a hoarder (I prefer the terms scavenger or collector) I have a few pallets around.  Pallets make pretty decent fences with the addition of a few boards and a handful of screws.  It’s a bit of a job to move the pen, but only has to be done every couple days.  Good fences make good neighbors, but my neighbor is furious about this one.

The wire fence on the right is on what she considers the property line.  It’s roughly in line with my driveway, which at the front of the yard is a foot from the edge of her property.  Somehow it was determined that the wire fence delineates the properties’ boundaries.  The actual line is about 12 feet to the left of the wire fence, clearly marked by a 6 foot tall railroad tie complete with a surveyor’s ribbon tied around the top.  I left room to drive around behind the garage when I built the fence, not realizing by doing so I would be causing problems down the road.  Now I have a pallet pen there containing two happy goats, causing one unhappy neighbor.  I’m starting to understand why the Great Wall of China was built.

A while back, we had a rabbit give birth to a litter of 8.  She stopped taking care of them and they all died.  I don’t think we mentioned that on the blog.  Anyway, about a week after that, another rabbit had a litter of 8.  They’re all doing fine and are starting to venture out of the nest.  If anybody is interested, they’re purebred New Zealands.  I’ll sell them for $15 each.  Otherwise, they’ll be dog food.

The third doe had a litter of 5 last night.  It’s her second litter of 5, so if her litter size doesn’t improve by the third litter she’ll become dog food and we’ll replace her with one from a litter of 8.  We’re attempting to line breed, since it can reportedly work very well with rabbits.  As the saying goes, “If it works, it’s line breeding.  If it doesn’t, it’s inbreeding.”

We’ve started working on the garden even though we won’t be doing much planting for almost two months.  More on that in another post.

Does Kindle Kits?

Rabbit does kindle when they give birth to kits.  Why these confusing terms?  Probably the same reason as a bunch of cows is a herd and a bunch of sheep is a flock.  A group of geese is a flock but several crows form a murder.  More than one goose are geese, but multiple moose are still moose.  In other words, I have no idea.

I was hoping to take daily pictures of Octomom’s kits, but it turns out she’s 10 pounds of fur and fury, so you might have to settle for weekly pictures.  Think of the vicious rabbit on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  That’s Octomom.

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Octomom

We found out a while back that rabbits are generally horrible mothers the first time around.  Horrible to the point that the entire first litter usually dies.  The second litter is usually a little better, but 100% survival of the kits doesn’t usually happen until at least the third litter.  It’s a little disturbing to walk into the garage in the morning and find dead baby rabbits spread around the cage, usually in varying stages of being eaten.  For their reputation as breeders, you’d think they’d be better parents.  The people selling cute little rabbits don’t tell you what to expect, and surprisingly, most of the informational books don’t mention it either.

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Finally, a Storage Solution

I don’t remember if we posted pictures before of our mud room closet/pantry/feed room.  When we still had the Freedom Rangers we usually had several hundred pounds of feed on hand, with the Rangers eating about 25 pounds a day.  The closet was always packed full of feed bags.  That also caused our mouse problem.

Today at Wal-Mart we found these awesome storage containers.  We bought 4 on impulse, and as soon as we got home with them, we wished we’d bought more.

They’re the perfect size to hold 100 pounds of feed.  On the bottom we have crumbles for the chickens next to scratch feed.  On top is cat food and sweet feed for the goats.  There’s just enough room under the shelf to keep an extra mineral block on top of the bins.

I’m not usually a big fan of storage bins.  They’re great for storage but impractical for daily use.  And if we don’t use it frequently, we probably don’t really need it.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I have boxes of stuff I never use.  I’m working on it, alright?

In spite of my usual dislike for plastic bins, I love these things.  At $10 they’re a durable solution to an ongoing problem.  And certainly a lot easier to access than trying to reach the bottom of a 55 gallon drum.

Now I’m going outside to build a vapor carburetor for my mower.  Then I’ll give the dogs baths, and try to finish my chicken butchering post.  I know it’s way overdue, but cut me some slack.  I’ve been busy and sick – not a good combo.

Mr. Nameless Goes for a Visit

 

While I was feeding the rabbits  yesterday, Mr. Nameless decided to pop in. Apparently, the hole in back of the garage is larger than I realized. He really misses Bonney now that she’s living on the other side of the house; maybe the rabbits are his new friends? No matter what his reason, I think we’re going to have to fix that hole!

 

Lazy Saturdays

It’s been one of those lazy Saturdays when I never feel like I’m doing much but somehow seem to get things done.  We started out with the usual chores: feeding, watering, milking, rotating.  After Declan’s morning nap we loaded up the Jeep and headed to Tractor Supply and Wal-mart.

Somehow we managed to run out of dog food, goat sweet grain, rabbit pellets, and three kinds of chicken feed at the same time.  If I ever wind up homeless, I’ll definitely be getting a cart from TSC instead of those cheap ones Wal-Mart has.

This definitely would not work with those junky Wal-Mart carts!
350 pounds of feed and a bag of cedar shavings for the mice. The Jeep makes a decent farm truck.

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Raising Meat Rabbits

I started thinking quite some time before I first bought rabbits about raising them for food for both us and the dogs.  Since that time we’ve come to realize that we should be keeping the Old Testament dietary laws which forbid eating rabbit, but we still decided to raise them as an inexpensive raw meat source for Tank and Dee-Oh-Jee.

None of the commercially produced rabbit cages quite fit my needs, and most seemed overpriced so I ended up building my own.  I bought J clips, J clip pliers, wire, feeders, and an automatic watering system.  They can all be bought at Tractor Supply, most feed stores, and online.  Once I had everything at home and added the costs, I realized it cost me almost as much as buying ready-made cages.  But by building my own I was able to build a higher quality cage to my own specifications.

Each cage is 24 inches square and 18 inches tall with 1 x 2 inch welded wire on the top and sides and 1/2 x 1 on the bottom.  This allows the byproducts (more about that later) to drop through so the cages only have to be cleaned occasionally.  The doors are hinged at the top and swing in.  It’s a little inconvenient, but keeps rabbits from escaping if you forget to latch the door, or if you have a savant that opens it himself like one of our old rabbits did.

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