No, literally, this is Curious the Chicken. She and her almost identical flockmate Georgie, were named after a particularly curious monkey of childhood lore for reasons that I’m sure anyone who has ever kept adventure-going chickens know very, very well. Today Curious spent a good portion of the afternoon watching what was going on with the shed from the top of Fort Knox (the duck den). The shed was originally built as a chicken coop, but it was decided, not by me, that it was too nice to be used as a chicken coop and so another, smaller chicken coop was made for the hens.
Up until today, the shed has housed a train set on a large train table. My five day shy of thirteen-years-old son decided he would give up his train space and the shed will be given over to rabbit housing. Not like this was a tremendously big sacrifice as he has two smaller layouts in two different rooms. So down on the wooden floor went some laminate and then the three hutches were taken inside the shed. The shed is really the perfect set up for the rabbits. It’s got windows on three sides for cross-ventilation and they are covered with fine wire that is reinforced with chicken wire. The windows are high enough up a straight wall to deter the evil that is raccoons and low enough that if one could somehow get onto the roof it couldn’t reach down and tear the fine wire free. And in really, really cold weather the windows can be covered if there is kindling going on. Also, the door is a full-sized house door and it has a locking door knob. Take that raccoons!
All three hutches were moved inside today and there is plenty of room to hang more cages suspended from the ceiling and along another wall. Plus there is room to store the food in tightly covered containers. All that is left is to get and attach water bottles and feeding troughs to the hutches and pick up the feed. I have timothy hay and orchard grass hay already. We are going to transport the bunnies in the large Rubbermaid bins we have and then those will go underneath the hutches to catch the manure which will be taken out once a week.
Since rabbit manure is the only manure that can go directly into the garden without composting I’ll be saving it in another bin until it’s time to rototill and then we will rototill it into the garden soil. We will be doing a huge garden this year so I imagine it will take a while before we have too much on hand, but then I’m not really sure how much manure they produce on a daily basis. After we’ve used as much as we can to ammend the soil then we are going to start offering it on craigslist to gardeners. Maybe $3 if you bring your own 5 gallon bucket.
I think I need to get a scoop for the manure bucket and probably some dedicated cleaning supplies for disinfecting the hutches and the water bottles and food dishes. I still need to get some sort of resting mat or tile for them to sit on to rest their feet from the wire. Although in Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits he claims it isn’t necessary. I also want to get the wire for making more cages, but will wait until the husband comes home for that. He has more patience than I do in the places that carry stuff. Then we will want to make or find some nest boxes as well. Neither of the does are pregnant at the moment, but as soon as we are ready to breed them I’d like to have the nest boxes available, just so I am not running out at the last possible moment to scramble together something.
So we will be getting a junior buck, a senior doe, and a junior doe and her six unweaned kits. We decided it was a little too much to jump in with 2 full litters and now the one set has been weaned anyway. I would like, once we have the cage room, to get one more buck and two more does. I’d like two different breeding lines.
I would eventually like to make a rabbit tractor as well. Just a small one that can get them some time on real grass in the sunshine. Not that there is much grass left between the chickens and the gardens. But there is a narrow strip and it never gets fertilized that they might appreciate. I would have to stay outside with them, though. Both sets of next door neighbors on either side do have dogs that ocassionally slip their leashes. So that would be good to do on days I am gardening and can be right there in defense mode.
36 hours and counting down until our new livestock challenge begins. It still feels so surreal, but I am really happy about it.