Summer is the Good Life

Hello everyone!  I’ve been behind in posting, but I’ll blame that on keeping myself busy with other ventures.

The rabbitry and the wanna-be city homestead is doing swimmingly so far!  First of all, the yard is improved and the garden is in.   It actually went in about 9 days ago, but the way the rain was working – we didn’t have 3 days in a row with no rain (and warm weather) until the beginning of June.  So first opportunity to till – we took it.  I have to thank my parents for that, they came over and were a huge help.  Weather has been funny around here – it is Wisconsin, but normally by now we’re solidly into the 70s weather.  We’re coming off of a warm weekend (80s), but now today it’s back down to 63 for a high.  On the bright side, the peas I planted a month or more ago are just going NUTS.  (They love cool weather).   Plus it’s far better for the rabbits, who struggle with heat.

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The plants before going into the ground.  Cucumbers are foreground, tomatoes are background.  If you have a greenhouse to start your seeds, I highly recommend it.  Makes for very strong plants.

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The two sides of the garden right after planting – Lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, pickling cukes, some heirloom eggplant (I WILL give those their own post… these things are unbelievable.), Dill, and cilantro.  I fully intend to be a canning nut at the end of the growing season.

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The two sides about a week in.  This is one of my favorite parts of summer – watching the garden grow. 🙂  The tomatoes on the right are really taking off – the soil is also “fresh”, so it should be interesting to see how they grow.

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And, of course, the after-effects of spending all day in the sun.  Oops.

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Have an old tree stump?  We “re-purposed”the old tree stump and logs to make a firepit in the backyard. We’ll be adding in a ring, and getting some stones to line it etc.  But for now, it’s nice.  Over time we’ll cut down the logs and replace with seating that has a back.

 

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Big Mama’s litter is now at the “Cottonball with ears” phase.  (I.e. melt-your-heart adorable.)  The 8 that made it past the first day are all doing very well.  They’re about 14/15 days old.  I actually turned the nestbox on its side about 2 days ago – normally I would never do that so early, but with the heat over the weekend some were climbing out anyways.  This way they could at least get back into the box on their own accord.  Big Mama has climbers in her litters, Little Mama so far does not.

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And this is the preface to a future topic – gathering wild hay/grasses for rabbits.  I’ve taken to cutting wild grasses/wild wheat/wild hay on the side of the road.  If you can’t tell by the picture, the rabbits love it and now to come greet me in the morning in hopes of some green hay. (I’ve scrapped the “no greens to kits” rule when it comes to green hay.  I figure it’s basically high fiber hay with water content, and so far it’s gone fine.  No rich greens to them at all, though.)  I’m planning to compile a list of what I use, and it has helped me cut back on my feed bill a bit.  Also, one of the does from the original litter topped out at 5lbs when she was just a little over 10 weeks.  I’m very happy about that, and she’ll be staying on as a breeding doe for certain.

Until next time!

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The Digs and Food (Part Duex)

Focused on the hutches – right now we’re going with a double-stack design.  We may eventually split these in half, have one layer, and have them open from the top.  Right now the side door works, but it makes for a lot of reaching in and trying to get the rabbits out. (Sometimes kicking, and they have sharp little claws)   Right now each hutch has a food dish with a hay rack cut in right above.  The plan is to have the hay bits drop into the food dish, which seems to work about 10% of the time.

I made the hutches myself, which made a very fun project to sit in front of Netflix.  I did some reading on the all-wire bottoms and I primarily reference a book called “Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits“.   I highly recommend it, it’s kind of my “Rabbit raising Bible”.  But back to the all-wire bottoms – the author’s long term opinion (as well as many others) is that the wire bottom is better for rabbits.  It doesn’t hurt their feet, and due to the set-up allows any excrement to pass right through.  Solid surfaces collect urine/feces and are far more likely to cause sores and problems.  So far, they’ve worked beautifully and the rabbits seem quite happy!

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The hutch set-up.

Food is far cheaper than I expected.  A 50lb bag of pellets only runs about $12.  Pellets are the primary diet for rabbits – they have everything they need.  However, being chewers and serious herbivores – rabbits need lots of stuff TO chew as well as lots of fiber.  The best way to supplement that is with hay.   We started off buying packaged hay from the pet store, but it was pretty obscenely expensive.  So we switched instead to a bale of “Swamp Grass”, which so far seems to be doing the job very nicely.  Plus a bonus – it was only $5 for 50-60lbs.  I suspect it will last us through the summer at least.

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