There is nothing like freshly dug potatoes! They are delicious. I dug up a big bowlful. Our first potatoes of the year. Enough said. Now onto the animals. Well, after a bit about my hair.
We didn’t move the rabbit tractors last night, because we spent about an hour last night dyeing my hair. It’s been several years since I’ve colored it, but the grey streaks finally were beyond annoying and making me feel old, so I gave in to vanity. We got a natural hair dye from the food co-op and my daughter applied it. Why did it take so long? Well, it’s two feet long and ridiculously thick. When I put it back in a ponytail, the diameter of the circle is two inches thick. Plus the natural dye takes a good fifteen minutes to wash out. It’s quite a bit darker auburn now than my natural brownish/reddish gold, but I like it.
So the tractors didn’t get moved until this morning. And you would have thought it was the end of the absolute world for the chickens. Oh, how they squawked and complained that I wasn’t letting them out of the coop first for the entire fifteen minutes it took me to move the tractors. But I knew if I let them out they’d just come get in the way and poop on the grass I was moving the tractors to and I had already had to rake the grass once. What an earful. And they say roosters are noisy. Ha! Hens are natural born chatterers and guilt trippers.
Piper did not want to leave her cage so we decided she’s in for the duration of her pregnancy. Today is day 28. She was happy to just plop herself down in front of the fan. We put the nesting box in tonight. She gave birth on day 33 last time and she has built two nests already. She has removed the urine guards twice now. I’m not sure what to do about it. She clearly doesn’t want them in there, but I feel they give a bit more protection against a kit maybe squirming out at some point. Although she’s never had a problem with kits outside the nesting box before they were able to jump in and out themselves and by then they are big enough to not squirm through the side wire. I should probably just let her have her way.
Phoebe remains very protective of her kits who will be four weeks old tomorrow. She’s not aggressive, but when you take them all out of her cage she gets kind of wild-eyed and so you have to show her where they are to calm her down. Usually I put all the kits in a bucket on some hay and then my son picks her up and we walk together to the tractor. He holds her in such a way so she can see them the entire time and she stays calm. Then he puts her into the tractor and she gets anxious again until every kit is in there with her. She checks each one over and I swear she counts them. Then when she is convinced they are all there and fine, she plops down and promptly ignores them unless they try to nurse. Once in a while she’ll groom them, but as long as she can see them, she’s happy.
It is interesting to see how much more of a relaxed attitude Piper has had with her last two litters than Phoebe is having with her first. It may be first mother anxiousness or it might just be the difference in their personalities. I’ll get more of a clue on that when Phoebe has her second litter.
I have decided to breed Lola with Leo for her first litter. I have decided to do it tomorrow. That’ll put about four weeks between Piper’s kits being born and her kits being born. We will rebreed Phoebe in 3 weeks so that will put her next litter about 4ish weeks after Lola’s. The end of August is always cooler so we shouldn’t have to worry so much about the heat when Lola gives birth. By the time Piper is ready to rebreed, Starbuck will be old enough to breed her and he will take over all breedings with Piper, Phoebe, and Lola. And when Serenity and Sweetie Belle are old enough, which is also when Starbuck is old enough, they will be bred by Leo. Little Andromeda won’t be ready to be bred until December, but she will be bred by Starbuck.
Last night I ordered another stack-a-hutch set and a single cage, so that is a total of four more cages that should arrive around Wednesday. I also ordered three more nesting boxes and three feeders. We have one more feeder here so that is why I didn’t order four. I forgot to order hutch cards though. Or pedigree papers. I meant to, but it completely slipped my mind. So I had to do a second order today so I can get them. I’ve been keeping track of everything on the computer, but I’d like to have actual written out documentation, too.
We should not need to buy anymore rabbit cages after this. Indeed, this is the maximum of what will fit in the rabbit shed. Once Andromeda grows up we will have six does in production and two bucks and that is sufficient for our needs. This gives us four grow out cages, so if we space our litters appropriately, that should work just fine. Unless the does all start having massively huge litters, that is. On top of that we will still have the two Wabbitats and the three outdoor wooden hutches if we need them, though one of those needs a repair.
The husband is going to make a couple more six foot tractors and two more four foot ones and repair the outdoor hutch when he comes home this hitch and maybe even find a way to put drip pans on the hutches or at least figure out how it might be accomplished. I don’t think it should be that hard. It just needs something to rest on. If we run out of time, we can wait on one of each sort of tractor a bit longer, but we will definitely need the others in short order. We will likely be processing four of the kits before he leaves. They are eleven weeks old tomorrow and I think they will have all hit 5 pounds by week twelve or thirteen. We weigh them and the almost four week olds tomorrow so I will have a better idea, but since their weights all ranged from 4 to 4.5 pounds last week, I think it is pretty much a given that they’ll hit 5 pounds in another 8 days. Some of them might hit it tomorrow. If the one that was only 4 pounds last week doesn’t hit it, I’ll give it more time with the ones who hadn’t hit 4 pounds as of last Sunday.
I hope we have another mild winter so I can use the tractors as much as possible. Having them outside on the grass makes them so happy. It really is a quality of life thing. We will have to figure out rain protection, though, because once the wet season starts it won’t stop for months. As long as the ground is not frozen it should be fine for all but the youngest of kits. I would really like another winter without serious snow. I really hate snow after the first day of it. I do worse in snow than I do in heat, I think. I’m really happiest between 60 and 70 degrees F.
If we have a pole barn when we move I might set the tractors up in there in the winters, just so they can run around in bigger spaces during the day when it is raining. Or maybe just some kind of permanent shelter that is basically a roof with open sides to put the tractors under. We could build something like that. Or get one of those carport kits, maybe. Or build something like a carport kit, but with PVC pipe so it is light enough to move around on grass. We’ll figure it out.