Sunday, April 3, 2016

Moving on down the old dusty trail..

.. to a new homestead!

Yup, we're moving! Finally! After a lot of research and real estate searches, we found a little piece of heaven to call our own about an hour away from where we currently live. We are still hammering out the details and had to compromise on some things while we were blessed with others, but overall I think we'll be very happy there.

Are the rabbits moving with us? Yes. They will be moving in cages at first that will go in the barn, but once we are settled, we hope to begin free-ranging them in small groups once our rabbit tractors are built.

Will we be staying with Harlequins? For now. We may be trying another breed once the dust settles after the move, but we are keeping things the same for the time being.

Will we still have a garden and heirloom plants? Yes. Bigger and better than before! Though we will probably miss most of this year's growing season due to time and moving constraints. There is no garden on the new property, so it will be started from scratch. I'm planning on taking the soil from the raised beds to enrich the garden site since we've been adding bunny gold, compost, vermiculite, and peat moss to our raised beds for more than 5 years now and hopefully that will help us get a good start.

More to come, including pictures, once we close on the property, but I just wanted to post an update with the latest and greatest. Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Still Here!

I took an unexpected break from the computer, but we're all still here and kicking!

The long and short of it is that we thought we were moving to Nebraska and had less than 3 months to get across the country into a new house. Then plans changed again and now we are staying in Georgia, but still listing our house for sale and moving to a different part, so things have remained very hectic. I feel like my life is made up of moving boxes and clearing out unnecessary stuff from the house. We are actively looking for a homestead or small farmstead to rent while we look for the perfect land to buy. We are also hoping to start our own family. :)

Of course the animals will be coming with us, though I am reducing the herd to only my very best keepers. We are trying to decide how we will be housing the rabbits on a new property, but it will not be in stackers so the excess caging will have to go once we figure it out. We are leaning towards colony-style housing for grow-outs and then extra large suspended cages with worm beds underneath for kindling does/kits and bucks so we have worm castings and compost for the garden still. They can have pasture time separately so we know exactly what they are up to and keep tabs on breeding, but still get fresh air and exercise.

We are also planning to add chickens once we get moved. Our goal in the next few years is to become as self-sustaining as possible. That means expanding the garden, growing feed for the animals, and eventually getting into dairy and other such ventures as well.

Anyway, HI! I'm still here and I'll try to make a point to be on the computer more these days as winter rapidly approaches. Hope everyone is doing well and having a nice autumn!

Friday, July 31, 2015

How few.. too few?

I've been trying to figure this out because it is looking more and more likely that we will be moving across the country. This presents a number of challenges such as:

1. We have to move there. I know this seems obvious, but we only have so much money and time.. and there is only so much space on the biggest moving truck. It won't be feasible to make multiple trips for animals.

2.  We will probably have to rent at first until we get settled in and find a new place. This means we have to find a landlord that will be okay with our critters.

I know I need more than a pair or two. But do I need 15? 12? 8? What do you think would be a good minimum number to maintain your own line? I don't want to try to move too many, but I also don't want to shoot myself in the foot if I end up moving too few.

Also, TGIF. Big time. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In Memoriam

Rest in peace, sweet Spock. I will never forget your gentle nature, demand for headrubs, happy binkies all over the house, and insistence that you be allowed to have a sip of beer on lazy weekend afternoons. Thank you for the lovely sons and daughters you provided us with and for being a wonderful ambassador to the Harlequin breed.

I always said that raising animals wasn't for the faint of heart and it is times like this that I am reminded of that fact. Spock fought the good fight, but was unable to best what ultimately turned out to be a fast-growing abscess or tumor in his upper jaw that grew up behind his eye. We let him go this morning and he is now buried beside my heart dog on a hill overlooking the house.

Until one has loved an animal,
 a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. 
-Anatole France

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kind of Funny

Yesterday my Mom was asking me about the rabbits. She asked if I was planning to still raise them if we move, to which I answered yes. She then asked me if I still had the kind of rabbits I had before. This is how it went:

Me: "You mean Harlequins?"
Her: "I don't know. The ones you had for years."
Me: "If you mean Harlequins, then yes I still have them."
Her: "I'm not sure. They are the ugly patchy ones that no one wants?"
Me: *dies laughing*

Yup. I raise Harlequins, aka "The ugly patchy ones no one wants." Just thought I'd share, haha.

Happy Sunday everyone! :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Seasonal Breaks

I know a lot of different rabbit breeders have their own thoughts on a good breeding schedule for their barn. I've tried having litters year round, once a year, a few times a year, and only in the more temperate months.

Here's what I've found:

Does need to be bred more than once or twice a year or their litter sizes trend downward. This is not true of all does, but I've found it to be an accurate generality.

Older does, if healthy, can still be nice producers for you on a decent breeding schedule. Don't discount buying an older doe if she has exactly what you need to add to your herd. Many breeders will practically give an older doe away to make space for the younger generation. Don't assume the doe is wore out also- ask questions! Many hobby breeders never had their does on a rigorous schedule to begin with. You may be surprised at what an old gal like this can still do for your herd!

Does can hide their fat well! They may feel perfect across the ribs and hips, but be absolutely loaded with thick white fat on the inside. Gross, I know. But true! Does with huge dewlaps generally have a lot of internal fat, too. I know a lot of senior doe show rabbits have large dewlaps and some people consider it a sign of glowing health, but I've noticed a correlation in mine with reduced health. The evidence is apparent whenever butchering day rolls around and I haven't been vigilant.

It is better to feed more hay and encourage regular exercise than to rely on a complete pelleted diet and hope they move around enough. In thinning the ranks over the past two years, the lazy does that went berserk for pellets are the ones that either never got pregnant or it took multiple attempts before they would take. It is also less expensive to give your rabbits hay and cuttings from your property than to rely exclusively on pellets. Not to mention I wouldn't want to eat the same thing all day every day. Variety is the spice of life!

Breeding in the icy grip of winter or the humid heat of summer is a gamble for the doe and the kits. The heat and humidity is far more dangerous than the cold to the mother, but the reverse is generally true for the kits.

My preference is to breed more often and to limit the planned litters for the temperate times of the year, but I do plan litters through the heart of winter in some years as my rabbits are kept indoors. I don't mess with bad mothers and I do keep a 3-strike rule for all brood does.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Everything's Coming Up Roses the Midwest, that is. I have never seen such a fantastic collection as I did in Omaha. I was just wowed beyond belief. As most of you know by now, I love everything rose, so I found a little slice of heaven on earth in this garden.

Part II to come sometime over the next few days. I was not exaggerating when I said I took a lot of pictures. Happy Sunday! :)