Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rabbits on Pasture

Let me be frank: I hate cages.

I realize they are necessary in domestic animals for safety and cleanliness in most setups, but I am just not a fan. Not for dogs, horses, rabbits, etc. I think cages are very widely available, convenient and overused.

To me, a much better choice is fencing. Animals, like people, need room. Room to exercise, room to eat, room to breathe. When I was at the vet yesterday with my dog for her annual shots and senior bloodwork, the people next to me were talking about how long their dogs can stay in their crate without fussing and it made me sad. It's one thing if a dog needs to be crated because you are having a child's birthday party and are worried the dog could knock someone over or get out the open front door. It is an entirely different thing when the dog crate is used to hold the dog out of the way for convenience day after day. I use my dog's crate for feeding them separately and when I need them in there for their own safety (ie we are moving a huge table out the front door or whatever). Otherwise they stay out with us as part of the family. And not to toot my own horn, but out of the 20+ dogs there, my dog was the best behaved and the most calm. She was a perfect ambassador to her breed, which are notoriously difficult to train and high energy.

So, our rabbits spend a lot of time in their cages out of necessity. We don't have a setup for them on pasture and there are a lot of problems with rabbits on grass from coccidia, toxic plants, escapes, predation, etc.

Despite this, I still want to start trialing pasture raised rabbits. It is one of my new goals for the upcoming year. Hopefully we will have additional acreage for them, but even if we don't, we will be building some modified rabbit tractors that will be a work in process. The goal is to keep mamas/new babies in their extra large cages because I have read that kits are most susceptible to coccidiosis when they are still nursing and shortly after. So I'll probably wean the babies (but mama can go to pasture) and then a week or two later move the babies to a pasture grow-out pen. The goal will be not to use the same spot of grass twice in a 12 month period, so they will be rotated frequently somewhere new. There will have to be slats or something on the bottom to keep them from getting out underneath and there will have to be a top or the hawks will make short work of my project (they nest in the trees on the hills behind my house).

This isn't all for them though- it is also for us. I hate cleaning trays. I also would like to see more muscle development and I think exercise will contribute to his more than anything else we could do with diet or care. I butchered an older doe last week and was absolutely shocked and appalled at how much internal fat she had. No wonder she wouldn't take when she was bred! She looked and felt good from the outside, but the inside was just fat with fat on top. She was only getting 1 cup/day of pellets and random hay/grass/garden extras, so now my adult does are only getting 1/2c and we will see how it goes. I think pasture raised rabbits will also reduce the feed bill and will contribute to better fitness overall.

We don't have our rabbit tractor design yet because honestly most that we've found for ideas were failures. One blog even scrapped the whole design after escapees and losses over the course of a year. We are hoping to have better results, but no way to know until we try! So for now we are researching and letting our rabbits exercise outside with supervision when we can, which is better than nothing, but still leaves us with plenty of room for improvement. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Morning Exercise

This is one of my old boys, Apollo. He was born here in 2010 and has lived here his whole life. I could never part with him, he is a prized herdsire, but is also my baby and I luuurrrve him. <3

I don't know if you can tell, but he has grey hairs mixed all in his black sections. I'm sure they are in the orange also because he looks less red-gold these days, but they blend in a lot better on the light patches.

I've never posted a video before, so hopefully this works!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Like Red

Apparently I do, because most of the flowers blooming right now that I've planted over the years are some variation of the color!

These are daylilies. I am the worst and didn't write down the varieties when I purchased them several years ago:

But we have other red flowers (chrysanthemums), too:

And my very favorites. These are climbing roses (Don Juan):

They are huge!

I also snapped a quick picture of some of the deer damage (that was heirloom Spinach) before I ripped everything out:

Hope everyone is having a nice week. It is blazing hot here! As in 98 degrees.. I'm worried for when the true summer arrives if it is this hot already. Stay cool if you can!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Garden Fail

I've been around, just haven't felt like posting much. I have a big certification exam coming up, so a lot of the time that I'm not at work I've had to spend time studying.

On the homestead, we don't have any planned new litters and very unfortunately, the deer got into the garden. Our once luscious harvest has been pretty much decimated to the ground, so we didn't even get seeds from our lettuces, spinach, and warm weather planting etc. The picture above was taken one of the nights before they attacked. The radishes, snow peas, carrots, and blueberries survived at least and are going to seed, so I guess that's something we can save. Somehow a few broccoli and cauliflower are still trying to flower, which is bizarre at this time of year, but I'm all for whatever is trying.

If we are still here next year, I don't see that we have any choice but to run an electric fence around anything we plant. It will increase our cost, but so will losing entire harvests. In the meantime, I guess I'll need to go to Lowe's and get some new starts. ARGH.

On the bright side, more of our flowers are blooming and the butterflies are visiting in force. The hydrangea, daylillies, roses, and radish flowers are drawing them like I've never seen. It's nice to go out there and see them fluttering around. :)

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Welcome to Summer

Gah it's so hot already! And the constant rain is drowning everything! What in the world. I guess I'm happy we don't live in Texas, but still.. what a season so far.

Is it too early to tell summer its wore out its welcome at my house?

Also, I'm so happy I caught this cute picture. Hope everyone is having a good week! :)